MANILA, Nov 12 (Mabuhay) — President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. is set to embark on a state visit to China in January 2023, Malacañang announced Friday.

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. (MNS photo)

This, after Marcos accepted the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping to visit China in the first week of January next year, the Office of the Press Secretary (OPS) said in a press statement.

“President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has accepted the invitation of President Xi Jinping and the People’s Republic of China to visit China on a State Visit on January 3 to 5 [or] 6,” the OPS said.

“The Chinese government has since confirmed that schedule for the State Visit,” it added.

Marcos on Wednesday expressed hope that he would be given the chance to discuss the South China Sea (SCS) issue with Xi on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and Related Summits.

In a pre-departure speech before flying to Cambodia on Wednesday, Marcos said the 40th and 41st ASEAN Summits and Related Summits will serve as a platform to address regional issues, including the recent developments in the SCS.

Marcos, in a media interview while onboard the presidential plane going to Phnom Penh, stressed the importance of looking for ways to settle the long-standing territorial disputes in SCS between the Philippines and other littoral states which include China.

He added that it is “impossible” for him not to discuss the SCS issue when he meets with Xi.

During the 25th ASEAN-China Summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Marcos called for the early conclusion of a final and binding Code of Conduct (COC) in the SCS.

China was represented by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang during the summit.

Marcos emphasized the relevance of the immediate conclusion of the COC, as 2022 marks the 40th anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration on the Conduct (DOC) of Parties in SCS.

Marcos said it was vital to uphold the UNCLOS as the universal framework in oceans and sea activities.

“It shall be an example of how states manage their differences: through reason and through right. I, therefore, welcome the progress on textual negotiations on the COC this past year and hopefully an approved code of conduct in the very near future,” Marcos said.

In 2022, ASEAN and China signed the DOC of Parties in SCS to exercise self-restraint and promote non-militarization within the busy waterway.

The COC, on the other hand, aims to promote peace and stability in the disputed waters.

China, the Philippines, and several other littoral states have overlapping claims in the SCS.

Beijing claims around 80 percent of the contested SCS.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in the Hague, Netherlands on July 12, 2016 ruled in favor of the Philippines’ petition against China after the arbitral tribunal invalidated Beijing’s supposedly historic rights over nearly the entire SCS.

China, however, has repeatedly ignored the PCA ruling on SCS. (MNS)