Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang speakis durign a press briefing. Photo: Foreign Ministry of China
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang speaks during a press briefing. Photo: Foreign Ministry of China

After Taiwan’s de facto ambassador to the Philippines signed a bilateral investment agreement in Manila on Thursday, Beijing was quick to voice its displeasure.

China firmly opposes any official contact, signed agreements or cooperative documents of sovereign implications with Taiwan, from countries that have diplomatic relations with China, the official Xinhua news agency reported Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang as saying Friday.

“China has no disagreement with countries having diplomatic relations with China on normal economic and trade exchanges and non-governmental exchanges with Taiwan,” Geng said.

However, he said, China was seriously concerned about the pacts, including an agreement on investment guarantee signed by Philippine departments with Taiwan, which were apparently of an official nature.

We will see whether Beijing will decide to press the issue further and how Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte decides to respond. Since coming to office, Duterte has been quick to back down at the behest of Beijing on issues such as those relating to South China Sea territorial disputes. Duterte notably canceled a much publicized trip to the disputed Thitu island last April, reportedly under pressure from Beijing, and later played down Chinese coast guard and navy activity around the Philippine occupied location.

Despite Duterte’s dramatic pivot to China, he has given some mixed signals, reassuring more recently of the Philippines commitment to its alliance with the US, in a sign he is eager to play the US and China off each other.

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