Arroyo remembers Jiang Zemin and the request he instantly granted her

Senior Deputy Speaker and former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo can't help but recall her past interactions with the late former Chinese president Jiang Zemin when she visited the Chinese Embassy in Manila over the weekend.

Senior Deputy Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (left) and the late former Chinese President Jiang Zemin (Arroyo's office, Wikipedia)

Accompanied by her daughter, incoming Philippine Ambassador to Austria Evangelina Lourdes “Luli” Arroyo-Bernas, Arroyo went to the embassy Friday, Dec. 2 to sign the condolence book for Jiang in the presence of Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian and other embassy officials.

Arroyo had met the late Jiang on several occasions, starting from the time she visited China as Philippine vice president and during some other events when she was already president.

Recalling their first meeting in 1999, Arroyo said then-President Jiang was instrumental in having a Philippine bank open its first branch in China.

During her courtesy call, she requested from the Chinese leader a license to be granted to a Philippine bank in Shanghai so it may be allowed to operate. Jiang immediately referred her to then-Premier Zhu Rongji, and that very night, when she met Premier Zhu, her request was approved.

Arroyo (far left) signs the condolence book for the late former Chinese president Jiang at the Chinese Embassy. Grantsd(Arroyo's office)

The the Philippine bank branch was inaugurated two years later, in 2001, when Arroyo had already assumed the presidency.

In one of her past speeches, Arroyo noted that China was one of the first to congratulate her after she was sworn in as president and that Jiang even called her “an old friend of the Chinese people”.

In other past speeches, she credited Jiang and other high officials of China for their swift action in providing the Philippines with agricultural aid in the form of technological and financial assistance for the production of hybrid rice--a technology developed by China’s “father of hybrid rice”, Professor Yuan Longping.

The successful planting of hybrid rice varieties boosted rice production in the Philippines and doubled the incomes of hybrid rice farmers.

The hybrid rice assistance from China, together with timely importations of rice enabled by fiscal reforms in time for the global food crisis, allowed the Arroyo administration to sell rice for as low as P18.25 per kilo.

Jiang passed away last Nov. 30.