The main issue in Sino-Philippine relations remains the settlement of contradictions in the South China Sea, where the parties have a territorial dispute. In November 2018, during a visit to the Philippines by President Xi, the parties agreed on a strategic partnership. As bilateral exchanges in various fields intensified, relations between the two countries became an essential bond for regional peace and stability.
The centre of common interests is the Chinese Belt and Road initiative, in which Manila is actively involved. Against this background, as noted in the media covering Duterte’s visit, attempts by external forces to drive a wedge between the two countries failed.
Apart from China, which has the most significant presence in the area, at least five states currently claim sovereignty over the islands and islets in the South China Sea, including the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Vietnam.
Despite having no claims to the territories, the US is also actively engaged in the dispute, sending its military vessels to the South China Sea, sparking harsh criticism from Beijing which calls such acts “provocations”.