A long history of engagement, support

E CARTOON JUN 15, 2020President Xi Jinping of China called President Duterte last June 12 to greet the nation on the 122nd anniversary of the proclamation of Philippine independence in 1898. He told the President that China may soon have a vaccine against the COVID-19, now causing death around the world, and the Philippines would be a priority recipient of the vaccine which China would share with the world.

In the ongoing pandemic, China has already sent millions of dollars worth of ventilators and other hospital equipment along with face masks and other personal protective equipent (PPE) for the frontliners in our hospitals. It has donated some $2 billion to the World Health Organization for its aid efforts in many poorer nations. The China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) has just signed a $750-million assistance for the Philippines, the biggest package yet approved by any multilateral financial institution.

Three days earlier, on June 9, the Philippines and China celebrated the 45th anniversary of their diplomatic relations. It was on June 9, 1975, that President Ferdinand Marcos and China Premier Chou Enlai signed a joint communiqué establishing formal ties between the two nations in the modern era.

Chinese Ambassador to Manila Huang Xilian cited the 1975 communique which renewed and continued the millennium-old friendship between the two nations. It has been a long history of engagement, friendship, and fraternity, he said, traced by some historians to as far back as the Song dynasty in China in 971 AD. In the last two years, the ambassador said, China has extended $7 billion in financial assistance to the Philippines.

China has risen in the last 70 years to become the leading engine of the world economy. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, all nations of the world have suffered not just from thousands of deaths but also from economic losses.

With the world’s leading nations suffering huge contractions in their national economies, the World Bank sees China as having a modest growth which will help many developing countries now exporting to it.

There have been some controversies in Philippines-China relations, including conflicting claims in the South China Sea. The two countries, however, have been able to navigate through these controversies, such as their 60-40 agreement, favoring the Philippines, in an oil-gas venture west of Palawan.

President Xi’s call to President Duterte last June 12 was an occasion for China to greet our country on the occasion of Philippine Independence Day. It was also a reiteration of the centuries-old relationship and friendship between the two nations and an assurance of support in the ongoing pandemic.