The Philippines and China are working together amid territorial disputes to ensure continued cooperation, a visiting high-ranking Chinese official said.

Minister Liu Jianchao of the International Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (IDPC) during a meeting with reporters on Sunday said that “both China’s government, and the Philippine government have the desire to join hands in the development of natural resources” in the West Philippine Sea.

“I think we have approached each other and efforts for several rounds of consultations on the issue,” Liu explained.

“China has put forward the formula as a way of easing the tensions in the South China Sea for both parties’ benefit,” he said, adding that Beijing and Manila have to put aside disagreements and have shared development goals in the disputed waters.

As of May 2022, the Philippines has filed more than 300 diplomatic protests against China since former President Rodrigo Duterte took office in 2016, according to the Foreign Affairs department.

But Duterte’s anti-United States rhetoric also shook the long-standing Washington-Manila ties during his term.

Early this month, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited the country and emphasized that “the Philippines is an irreplaceable friend, partner, and ally to the United States.”

“We have no differences and we have no objections to the normal state-to-state relations between the Philippines and the United States. We should understand that they have the longest journey of relationship,” Liu said, noting that the Philippines established diplomatic relations with China only in 1976.

The Chinese minister added that Beijing is in favor of stability in the South China Sea and that it “won’t like to see actions that would escalate the security situation in the region.”

“If there is such a deployment of medium-range missiles, it could be a very disturbing factor and I think that is something China is against,” Liu said.

Meanwhile, the Chinese official said he had no chance to meet President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. as the former is set to leave for Jakarta, Indonesia on Monday.

However, he said Marcos is always welcome in China.

“President Marcos is always welcome to visit China at the time that is convenient to both sides. So, we’re working with the Philippine government on a certain date at a certain time where a visit could be made,” he said.