Marcos hopes Xi's talks with ex-Philippine president included South China Sea

MANILA (Reuters) - Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos Jr said on Tuesday he hoped his predecessor, Rodrigo Duterte, and Chinese President Xi Jinping discussed Beijing's actions in the South China Sea, including shadowing of Manila's vessels by Chinese coastguard ships.

Marcos said he was aware of Duterte's visit to China, adding that he welcomed any form of communication between the two countries.

"I hoped they discussed the issues we are seeing, shadowing, all these things now so we can achieve progress," Marcos told reporters.

Marcos was elected as president for a six-year term in 2022, taking over from Duterte who had adopted a more pro-China stance.

His remarks came after Xi told Duterte to continue to promote cooperation between the two countries, after bilateral relations cooled with Duterte's successor seeking closer ties with Washington.

"I hope you will continue to play an important role in the friendly cooperation (between China and the Philippines)," state media cited Xi as saying during a meeting at the Diaoyutai state guest-house in Beijing on Monday.

Under Marcos, relations between China and the Philippines have grown tense, with Manila pivoting back to its traditional ally, the United States.

The Philippines and the U.S reaffirmed a decades-old security alliance during a visit by Marcos to the White House in May, where President Joe Biden said the U.S. commitment to defending its ally was "ironclad".

Washington has pledged to defend the Philippines, which allowed the U.S. access to four additional military bases this year, angering Beijing.

Marcos also said granting U.S. access to the bases was a defensive step that would be "useful" if China attacked democratically governed Taiwan, which China claims as part of its territory.

China has always insisted on being friendly with its neighbours, which it sees as its partners, Xi said, without commenting on the state of current bilateral ties.

"During your tenure as president of the Philippines, you had resolutely made the strategic choice to improve relations with China in an attitude of being responsible to the people and to history," Xi told Duterte.

Last month, Duterte told domestic media that the Philippines could become a "graveyard" if it gets caught up in U.S.-China tensions.

(Reporting by Ryan Woo in Beijing and Neil Jerome Morales in Manila; Editing by Mike Harrison)