MANILA, Philippines, Sept. 8 (UPI) -- The Philippines wants to boost relations with China, but not at the expense of 50-year-old ties with the United States, President Gloria Arroyo said Tuesday.
Arroyo dismissed suggestions that longstanding security ties with the United States would be superseded by planned defense cooperation with China. "Both of them are allies," she said.
She said her Sept. 1-3 state visit to China saw "breakthroughs" in their territorial dispute in the South China Sea, and in the signing of five economic and business agreements, which will be worth about $1 billion, the Straits Times reported Wednesday.
"We recognize that China plays a determining influence in the security and economy of our region, and therefore of our country, in the same way that the United States and Japan do," Arroyo said.
During the visit, the state-owned Philippine National Oil Corp. and its Chinese counterpart, the China National Offshore Oil Corp., agreed to jointly explore potential oil reserves in the Spratly Islands. The oil-rich island chain is claimed in whole or in part by Brunei, China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.
Chinese President Hu Jintao agreed to make a return visit to Manila on June 30 next year to mark the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two Asian neighbors.