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Regarding WPS worries, PBBM and Xi concur on a “direct communication line.”

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To avoid potential misunderstandings in the West Philippine Sea, Presidents Xi Jinping of China and Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. agreed to create a “direct communication mechanism” on Thursday (WPS).

In a joint statement issued on the last day of President Marcos’ formal state visit to Beijing, China, the two leaders reaffirmed their agreement.

The Department of Boundary and Ocean Affairs of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Maritime and Ocean Affairs Office of the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) would establish communication.

Both Presidents Marcos and Xi emphasized the significance of the Foreign Ministry and Consultations as well as the Bilateral Consultation Mechanism on the West Philippine Sea and stated that “confidence-building measures will contribute to increasing mutual trust.”

Both leaders cited the Joint Statement on the 20th Anniversary of the DOC, adopted in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on November 11, 2022, when they reaffirmed the significance of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties (DOC) in the South China Sea in maintaining peace and stability in the West Philippine Sea.

The South China Sea includes “refraining from action of inhabiting on the presently uninhabited islands, reefs, shoals, cays, and other features,” according to the DOC, which was signed in 2002 by China and the 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states.

Additionally, the two Asian leaders reaffirmed their dedication to the complete and effective implementation of the DOC and encouraged further work toward the swift adoption of a code of conduct in the South China Sea that complies with international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, “with a mutually agreed timeline.”

Additionally, both sides agreed to call the 4th Joint Coast Guard Committee as soon as possible and emphasized the “usefulness of practical collaboration” between their coast guards.

Beijing and Manila also concurred that the Annual Defense Security Talks should take place “at a mutually opportune period.”

The necessity of sustaining ASEAN Centrality in the developing Asia-Pacific regional architecture, as well as their support for ASEAN integration and community building, were both reiterated by Presidents Marcos and Xi.

Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Ma. Teresita Daza said the direct line would use any mutually convenient and secure mode of communication in a text message to the Philippine News Agency.

According to the implementing agreement, information on “urgent maritime matters” will be received and communicated by director-level focal points in the DFA and Chinese Foreign Ministry.

The mechanism may be used by either side to supplement our ongoing diplomatic contacts, according to Daza.

“Any actions to be taken to address these pressing problems will still require clearance from our respective internal processes. The conversation may even involve higher ranking representatives from both foreign ministries if necessary “Added she.

According to Daza, the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea’s relevant authorities would provide the Chinese Foreign Ministry with all information.

There is currently no estimated date for when the direct line will be active.

The Philippine government has submitted over 190 notes verbales in 2022 alone, at least 65 of which date back to the beginning of the Marcos regime.

The Chinese Coast Guard’s “illegal acts” on November 20, 2022, when it collected rocket debris that the Philippine Navy had caught off the coast of Pag-asa Island, was one of the most recent incidents that led to a diplomatic protest from the Philippines.

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