MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. will hold a bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday on the sidelines of the 29th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders Meeting in Thailand, Malacañang announced Thursday.

Marcos' scheduled meeting with Xi was confirmed by Undersecretary Cheloy Garafil, officer-in-charge of the Office of the Press Secretary (OPS), in a statement.

Marcos flew to Thailand on Wednesday, while Xi is expected to arrive in Bangkok on Thursday.

This is the first time Marcos and Xi will meet in person.

The bilateral meeting between the two leaders will happen prior to Marcos' scheduled state visit to China in the first week of January 2023.

Garafil echoed Marcos' earlier plan to raise the South China Sea (SCS) if he meets Xi.

"The Chief Executive said that it’s impossible for him to talk to China without mentioning the West Philippine Sea issue," she said.

China and the Philippines are among the several littoral states which have overlapping claims in the SCS, with Beijing claiming around 80 percent of the contested waters.

On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague, Netherlands 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.

During the 25th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on Nov. 11, Marcos called for the early conclusion of a final and binding Code of Conduct (COC) in the SCS and emphasized the need to uphold the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) as the universal framework in oceans and sea activities.

Xi was represented by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang during the ASEAN-China Summit.

APEC meetings

Meanwhile, Marcos is also set to attend the APEC CEO Summit and APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting Gala Dinner on Thursday, Garafil said.

"Aside from a bilateral meeting with Chinese officials, Marcos will also participate in the APEC CEO Summit and will join his counterparts at the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting Gala Dinner," she said.

In his pre-departure speech delivered at the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City on Wednesday, Marcos expressed optimism that his participation in the APEC summit will bring "good progress" to the Philippines.

APEC, established in 1989, serves as the premier Asia-Pacific economic forum, with the primary goal of supporting sustainable economic growth and prosperity in the region.

Its 21 member economies are the Philippines, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Russia, Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Thailand, the United States and Vietnam. (PNA)