Philippines-China relations

Pandemic response, economic recovery discussed during top China diplomat Wang Yi’s visit

Michelle Abad
Pandemic response, economic recovery discussed during top China diplomat Wang Yi’s visit

THIRD VISIT. Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin, Jr. (left) and visiting Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister (SCFM) Wang Yi (right) during the latter's state visit to the Philippines on January 16, 2021.

Photo courtesy of DFA

The Chinese government promises 500,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines for the country

Coronavirus pandemic responses and economic revitalization were the top agenda in bilateral talks Saturday, January 16, of the Philippine and Chinese governments during the two-day official visit here of Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

In Wang’s third visit to the country, he and Philippine Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr took off from discussions that started last year on the coronavirus pandemic – from containment, vaccines, and economic revitalization.

The Chinese government agreed to donate 500,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines to the Philippines, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said.

On Saturday, Locsin thanked Wang for China’s assistance to the Philippines’ pandemic response in forms of in-kind donations and sharing of best practices.

Infrastructure, economy talks

The bilateral meeting also included talks on investments and infrastructure developments. The foreign ministers committed to stronger collaboration on projects under the Build Build Build program.

The Philippines and China signed the Philippines-China Agreement on Economic and Technical Cooperation, granting 500 million RMB to finance livelihood projects, infrastructure facilities, feasibility studies for major projects, and other mutually agreed projects.

The ministers also “agreed on the importance of preserving and promoting regional peace, stability and security.”

Saturday’s meetings also included the unveiling of a plaque to mark the designation of the Bank of China’s Manila Branch as Renminbi Clearing Bank in the Philippines. The launch of the Renminbi facility is seen to “help boost the country’s financial sector and improve trading rates for participating Philippine banks.”

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Warm ties

Locsin said Wang’s visit demonstrated “strong and manifold ties that bind the Philippines and China.” The Philippine Foreign Secretary had visited Beijing in October 2020.

Philippines-China ties have been warm despite differences on the West Philippine Sea. In a press release, the DFA said such differences did not “represent the entirety of the Philippines-China bilateral relationship.”

The Philippines is Wang’s latest stop in his Southeast Asian tour, which also included visits to Myanmar, Indonesia, and Brunei. In his first stop at Myanmar, he promised 300,000 doses of a coronavirus vaccine. –

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Michelle Abad

Michelle Abad is a multimedia reporter at Rappler. She covers overseas Filipinos, the rights of women and children, and local governments.