Wang Yi to visit Manila July 5-6

CHINESE State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi will arrive in Manila on Tuesday (July 5) for a two-day visit as part of his Southeast Asia swing, in a bid to speed up his diplomatic offensive to elevate the level of Beijing’s relationship to the region as a “comprehensive and strategic partner.”

Wang will have a bilateral meeting with his counterpart, newly appointed Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo on Wednesday. He will also call on President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

This will be the second high-ranking visit of a Chinese official since Marcos took office last June 30. Last week, Chinese President Xi Jinping sent Vice President Wang Qishan as his special envoy to Marcos’s inauguration.

The Chinese foreign ministry had earlier announced that Wang will travel to five member-countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) — Myanmar, Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Zhao Lijian, China’s foreign ministry spokesman, said the five Asean countries are “important partners that share vast common interests and seek common development” with China.

“Through this visit, China hopes to deepen strategic communication with the four Southeast Asian countries, work for high-quality Belt and Road cooperation, strive to build a peaceful, safe and secure, prosperous, beautiful and amicable home, inject new impetus into and foster new highlights in bilateral relations and get the China-Asean Comprehensive Strategic Partnership off to a good start,” Zhao said.

The trip also came at a critical time when the world was “fraught with turbulence and change” brought by the pandemic and the war in Ukraine.

Last May, US President Joe Biden gathered eight Asean leaders (minus the Myanmar junta leader and Philippine President Duterte, who begged off due to the presidential election and was represented by then-Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin Jr ) in Washington, DC where leaders agreed to have an Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF).

“The Chinese side will also work in concert with Southeast Asian nations to advance the implementation of the Global Development Initiative and the Global Security Initiative, boost economic recovery, uphold peace and tranquility, build a community with a shared future for mankind, and make greater contributions to regional and global peace and development,” Zhao added.

Wang co-chaired the foreign ministers’ meeting of Lancang-Mekong Cooperation in Myanmar last Sunday. He met also his counterparts from Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia which traverse the Lower Mekong River.

He is now in Thailand, the host of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) this year.

After his trip to the Philippines, he will visit Malaysia and then fly to Bali, Indonesia for the Group of 20 biggest economies (G20) foreign ministers’ meeting.

Last Saturday, he also chaired the inaugural meeting of the China-Indonesia high-level dialogue cooperation mechanism in Guiyang, the capital city of southwest China’s Guizhou Province. Indonesian President Widodo’s special envoy and coordinator for cooperation with China, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, cochaired the dialogue.

Wang will chair the 14th Meeting of the China-Vietnam Steering Committee for Bilateral Cooperation and the sixth Meeting of China-Cambodia Intergovernmental Coordination Committee in Nanning, Guangxi.

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