Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos' visit "will focus on an in-depth exchange of views on bilateral relations and regional and international issues of common concern", China's foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin says.
Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. flew to China for a three-day state visit, saying he looks forward to his meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping as they work to boost bilateral ties.
“As I leave for Beijing, I will be opening a new chapter in our comprehensive, strategic cooperation with China,” he told officials and diplomats, including the Chinese ambassador, prior to boarding his flight from an air base in the capital on Tuesday.
“I look forward to my meeting with President Xi as we work towards shifting the trajectory of our relations to a higher gear that would hopefully bring numerous prospects and abundant opportunities for peace and development to the peoples of both our countries,” he added.
This will be the second face-to-face meeting between Marcos and Xi after their November meeting in Thailand and comes as the Philippines has raised concerns over reported Chinese construction activities and the "swarming" of Beijing's vessels in the disputed waters of the South China Sea.
Last week, a Philippine foreign ministry official said talks with Xi would include China's actions in the South China Sea.
China's foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin on Friday did not mention the South China Sea but said the visit "will focus on an in-depth exchange of views on bilateral relations and regional and international issues of common concern."
It will promote cooperation in agriculture, infrastructure, energy and culture to create a "golden era," Wang said.
such as agriculture, energy, infrastructure, as well as trade and investment.— Office of the Press Secretary (@opsgovph) January 3, 2023
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'inching away from the extreme pivot'
Analysts expect Marcos to use the trip to help rebalance his country's foreign policy, which under the previous leader Rodrigo Duterte moved closer to China and away from the United States.
While the Philippines is a defence ally of the United States, under Duterte it set aside a territorial spat over the South China Sea in exchange for Chinese investment.
Beijing claims much of the South China Sea, where about $3 trillion in ship-borne trade passes annually, with the area becoming a flashpoint for Chinese and US tensions around naval operations.
In an address last May, Marcos vowed he would not lose an inch of Philippine territory to any foreign power, drawing cheers from advocates of a 2016 arbitral ruling invalidating China's expansive claims in the South China Sea.
Since Marcos, the son of the late strongman who fled into exile in Hawaii during a 1986 "people power" uprising, came into office, he has twice met with US President Joe Biden abroad.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Vice President Kamala Harris also visited the Southeast Asian country last year and assured Manila that Washington would defend the Philippines if it were attacked in the South China Sea.
Marcos is clearly "inching away from the extreme pivot to China", Renato Cruz De Castro, an international affairs analyst at De La Salle University in Manila, said.
"At the end of the day, China's goal is to force us to accept the fait accompli, that they will be operating within our exclusive economic zone," De Castro said.
READ MORE: China's ties with Philippines 'to strengthen' under Marcos