BILATERAL MEETING. Philippine President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. and Chinese President Xi Jinping hold a bilateral talk at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Wednesday (Jan. 4, 2023). Marcos brought up the plight of Filipino fishermen in the West Philippine Sea to Xi who agreed to “find a solution”. (Photo courtesy of Xinhua News)

MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Wednesday brought up the plight of Filipino fishermen in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) to Chinese President Xi Jinping who agreed to “find a solution” and compromise to protect the livelihood of Filipino fishermen and avoid any misunderstanding.

Marcos said he was “very clear in trying to talk about the plight of our fishermen” during his bilateral talk with Xi in Beijing.

“On the political front, we also discussed what we can do to move forward to avoid any possible mistakes, misunderstandings that could trigger a bigger problem than what we already have,” Marcos said in an interview.

“And the President [Xi] promised that we would find a compromise and find a solution that will be beneficial so that our fishermen might be able to fish again in their natural fishing grounds,” he added.

The Philippines and China earlier agreed on an arrangement for the establishment of a communication mechanism on maritime issues between the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) of the Philippines and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China.

The agreement was signed Wednesday, alongside 13 other bilateral deals on a wide range of cooperation that includes agriculture, infrastructure, development cooperation, maritime security and tourism, among others.

Marcos said he was “very optimistic” during his historic meeting with Xi, saying the Chinese leader “seemed to be genuinely interested in all of these issues and finding a way to move forward to again strengthen the relationship between China and the Philippines.”

The chief executive said he has instructed Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo and Philippine Ambassador to China Jaime FlorCruz to “pursue the subjects that we had discussed.”

The President said this is also to make sure that “they do not remain in the wind but will actually come to fruition so that the effects will be felt by both our people, by both China and both the Philippines, both our peoples to mutual benefit.” (PNA)