Declaring that Philippines relations with China is priority, former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said the strong bond between the two countries has been manifested by China’s recent donation of COVID-19 vaccines to the Filipinos.
In her opening message to the First Manila Forum of the Association for Philippines-China for Philippines-China Understanding (APCU), Arroyo, said the geographic proximity of the two countries is a strong reason why the relations should be priority.
The forum that took place Wednesday March 3 was co-sponsored by the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Manila.
Arroyo, APCU chairperson emeritus, said that since both the Philippines and China are next-door neighbors, keeping good relations is “always a priority.”
“The relationship between the Philippines and China is priority for our country. One major reason is geography – the Philippines and China are located within each other’s backyard, so to speak, so good relations between neighbors is always a priority,” said Arroyo, who also served as speaker of the House of Representatives.
APCU, a pioneer and leading NGO in the country in promoting people-to-people diplomacy between the Philippines and China, held the first Manila Forum with Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank President Jin Liqun gracing the occasion via zoom.
Jin discussed China’s commitment to help countries recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Manila Forum was held in order to broaden and deepen practical cooperation between the Philippines and China to jointly achieve an early revival of the economy from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mrs. Arroyo noted that the good relations between the Philippines and China is manifested by the recent donation of Covid-19 vaccine by China to the Philippines.
She disclosed that the donation was conveyed during a meeting she attended last January in which State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi of China told President Rodrigo Duterte of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s decision to donate vaccines to the Philippines.
According to Arroyo, aside from the geographical proximity, another reason for maintaining good relationship is not only the increasing bilateral dealings but “also collectively, such as through ASEAN.”
“A third factor is that domestically, the Philippines has a vibrant well-integrated Filipino-Chinese community, for whom increased business dealings with China are natural,” said the former chief executive.
“A fourth reason is that infrastructure is important for the Philippines in our drive for development, and there’s no country in the world that matches China’s recent track record and capability in this area,” she stated.
Arroyo added: “A fifth factor is that China’s economy has been the most dynamic and fastest growing among the major nations, and may soon become the world’s largest economy.”
She noted that President Duterte has declared in a recent press conference that “China has been giving us everything but never asked anything from us.”