China has assured it would continue to prioritize the Philippines despite the tightening of the global supply of COVID-19 vaccine, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said in a statement Monday.
The DFA said Chinese Foreign Minister and State Counselor Wang Yi gave this assurance to Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. during their bilateral talks at the sidelines of the Special ASEAN-China Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Chongqing, China last week.
The meeting between Locsin and Yi occurred on the eve of the 46th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Philippines and China on June 9, 2021.
Locsin thanked China for the timely provision of a steady supply of vaccines as the Philippines accelerates its vaccination program.
During the meeting, the two diplomats acknowledged the great strides achieved in the last 46 years of official ties, especially in the areas of trade, tourism, development assistance, infrastructure, and overall diplomatic and political relations.
Locsin said China had become a key economic partner of the Philippines, becoming the country’s largest trading partner and third largest export and tourism market in 2020.
Aside from Beijing’s assurance on vaccine supply, both sides agreed to China’s participation in the Philippines’ Build, Build, Build Program and closer engagement within the ASEAN-China dialogue mechanism currently led by the Philippines as country coordinator.
The DFA secretary also highlighted the important role China will play in the global economic recovery, stating, “There can be no swift recovery without China’s leading economic role, in partnership with countries in Southeast Asia and the rest of the world.”
Despite the more than a hundred diplomatic protests filed by Manila over repeated incursions of Chinese vessels in the West Philippine Sea, both sides welcomed the progress in negotiations on the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea and reaffirmed the importance of self-restraint and the peaceful resolution of differences within the framework of international law, especially 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
“As the two countries approach half a century of partnership, both ministers looked forward to a further expansion of Philippines-China ties in the context of regional peace and stability,” the DFA said.