MANILA, June 9 (Mabuhay) –Incoming National Security Adviser (NSA) Clarita Carlos on Thursday said the Marcos administration will pursue a “critical engagement” with China amid the dispute in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

Carlos said she and President-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. discussed the country’s relationship with China during a meeting on Wednesday.

“You mentioned the magic word ‘critical,’ yan ang isa sa mga napag-usapan namin ni President Marcos kahapon [that is among the topics that I discussed with President Marcos yesterday],” she said.

“Yes, critical engagement with China would be the way to go and President Marcos already noted it will still be enhanced on all levels,” she added.

Carlos’ nomination to be the next NSA was announced on Wednesday. She will replace Hermogenes Esperon Jr., a former military chief of staff.

A former University of the Philippines professor, Carlos said she accepted the offer to be Marcos’ NSA because defense, security, and foreign policy are her areas of research and expertise.

Marcos had earlier lauded Carlos for her knowledge in foreign policy and international politics.

On Tuesday, China’s Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian said differences with the Philippines regarding claims in the West Philippine Sea can be managed with “bilateral consultation and friendly communication.”

“We are two neighbors who have some differences, but what is crucial is the way and manner we handle the differences,” he said during the turnover of various broadcast equipment donated by China to the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO).

“We need to manage our differences with bilateral consultation and friendly communication,” he added. (MNS)

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