Marcos: US VP Harris' Palawan trip won't spark PH-China tensions

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 19) President Bongbong Marcos on Saturday said he sees no problem with the upcoming Palawan trip of US Vice President Kamala Harris amid concerns it would spark tensions between the Philippines and China.

Marcos told reporters that while Palawan is the "closest area to the South China Sea" — where Manila and Beijing have overlapping claims — the province is still "clearly on Philippine territory."

"So I don't think it will cause problems," Marcos said in a briefing on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Thailand.

Harris, who arrives in the country on Sunday, will be the highest-ranking American official to ever visit Palawan — a move seen to possibly inflame tensions due to its proximity to the contested Spratly Islands.

She is also set to meet with Marcos and her counterpart Sara Duterte during her stay. 

Pressed about the agenda of their meeting, Marcos said he will raise the topic of an "evolving" relationship between Manila and Washington.

"I will say, things have changed, what will the United States do in response? What do they expect from their partners in the region? I think when it comes to the security and defense in Asia-Pacific, it really has to be a joint response," he said.

The East Asian giant has repeatedly dismissed the 2016 arbitral ruling that invalidated its sweeping claims over the South China Sea. Many countries, including the US, have backed the Philippines in asserting the award.