In 2013, the relationship between the People's Republic of China and the Republic of the Philippines ran into difficulties because of the South China Sea issue. Mutually beneficial cooperation and people-to-people and cultural exchanges were also affected to varying degrees. Acting in the larger interest of the long-term growth of bilateral relations, China tried its best to avoid an escalation of the South China Sea dispute, steadily advanced exchanges and cooperation in various fields, and made huge efforts for a sound development of bilateral relations.
In early 2013, the Philippines unilaterally referred the dispute to international arbitration. China refused to accept this and made serious representations with the Philippines, urging them to correct the mistake and return to the right path of settling the dispute through negotiation.
While properly handling the South China Sea issue, China worked for the holding of diplomatic, consular and defense consultations with the Philippines and carried out activities of the year of China-Philippines friendly exchanges in order to sustain the momentum of communication and ease the atmosphere of bilateral relations. In August, Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with Foreign Secretary Albert F. Del Rosario on the sidelines of the Special China-ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting marking the 10th anniversary of the China-ASEAN strategic partnership held in China. In June, Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin and Philippine Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs Evan Garcia co-chaired the 19th diplomatic consultation between the two countries in Beijing. The two foreign ministries also conducted the fifth consultation on consular affairs. In April, Lieutenant General Qi Jianguo, Deputy Chief of General Staff of the PLA, and Undersecretary of National Defense Honorio S. Azcueta held the fourth defense and security consultation in Beijing. From the Chinese side, a delegation of the China Soong Ching Ling Foundation, Wang Hanbing and his wife Peng Peiyun, both of whom were former NPC vice chairpersons, Yuan Longping, academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and a delegation of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, visited the Philippines. The Shanghai Sharks basketball team led by Yao Ming played friendship matches in the Philippines.
In November, the Philippines was hit by super typhoon "Haiyan". President Xi Jinping and Foreign Minister Wang Yi sent messages of sympathy to President Benigno S. Aquino III and Foreign Secretary Albert Del Rosario respectively. The Chinese government provided RMB10 million of emergency relief materials and US$100,000 of emergency cash assistance to the disaster-hit areas. The Red Cross Society of China provided RMB5.4 million of relief materials, portable shelters and US$100,000 of humanitarian cash assistance. The China Soong Ching Ling Foundation provided 500 units of portable shelters. An emergency medical team of the Chinese government, an international rescue team of the Red Cross Society of China and the "Peace Ark" medical vessel provided medical services for about 8,000 injured people in the heavily hit areas. In October, Foreign Minister Wang Yi sent a message of sympathy to Foreign Secretary Del Rosario over the severe earthquake in central Philippines. In April, President Aquino sent a message of sympathy to President Xi Jinping over the earthquake in Lushan, Sichuan Province. In July, Foreign Secretary Del Rosario sent a message of sympathy to Foreign Minister Wang Yi over the earthquake in Gansu Province. In August, President Aquino and Foreign Secretary Del Rosario sent messages of sympathy to President Xi Jinping and Foreign Minister Wang Yi respectively over the floods in Northeast and South China.