Philippines-China relations

HIGHLIGHTS: Marcos state visit to China

HIGHLIGHTS: Marcos state visit to China


President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. flies to Beijing, China, from January 3 to 5 for his first state visit outside of Southeast Asia and his first foreign trip in 2023.

It will a quick visit for Marcos, who flies to China just as COVID-19 cases there are surging. The entire delegation will be under a bubble to minimize the chances of exposure to COVID-19.

Bookmark this page for updates on the three-day visit to Beijing, including analysis on what this means for the Marcos administration and the Philippines’ relationship with China.


First of 3 major meetings: Li Zhanshu

Bea Cupin

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s first and only full day in Beijing started with a meeting with Li Zhanshu, the chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of China, at the Great Hall of the People.

According to a post from Malacañang, Marcos “highlighted the close ties and relations between the two countries that started way before diplomatic relations [were] established 47 years ago” and also gave an assurance of “continuity in many facets of this relationship while charting new areas of engagement in the post-pandemic economic recovery.”

Neither the Palace nor China have released additional information about the meeting between Marcos and Li.

Filipino officials who were present in the meeting included House Speaker Martin Romualdez, House Senior Deputy Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Foreign Secretary Enrique Manalo, Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan, and Senator Imee Marcos.

HIGHLIGHTS: Marcos state visit to China

Delegation to China

Bea Cupin

Over 200 individuals are part of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s delegation to China, according to the Palace. Of the 200, between 60 and 80 are part of the “sizable business delegation” that the Department of Foreign Affairs previously announced.

The Palace has yet to release the full list of the delegation for the state visit, which includes several of the President’s relatives. House Speaker Martin Romualdez, Marcos’ cousin and a staple in his foreign visits, is with him in China. Senator Imee Marcos is also joining a presidential trip for the first time under her brother.

Several Cabinet officials, who are expected to sign bilateral agreements with their Chinese counterparts, are also part of the delegation.

Marcos meets with China’s Li Zhanshu

Chinese state media downplays South China Sea dispute

Sofia Tomacruz

As Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. marks his first state visit to China on Tuesday, January 3, Global Times, the Communist Party tabloid, sought to downplay Manila and Beijing’s dispute in the South China Sea.

In a series of articles published Tuesday, January 2, a Global Times editorial cast aside as “noise” issues relating to the South China Sea, adding that the dispute was one that “some Western media outlets have tried to play up.” Read more.

[WATCH] Rappler Recap: Why is Marcos in China

China is competing for influence – political, economic, and cultural – in the world stage, with the Asia Pacific being among the key arenas. The state visit is part of Marcos’ bid to jumpstart ties with China and Chinese President Xi Jinping’s relationship with the Philippines under a second Marcos president.

Rappler reporters Bea Cupin and Sofia Tomacruz discuss these and more in this recap episode:

HIGHLIGHTS: Marcos state visit to China

Marcos brings ‘secret weapon’ to 48-hour China visit

Marcos brings ‘secret weapon’ to 48-hour China visit

Philippines, China to sign 10 bilateral agreements

Sofia Tomacruz

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s state visit to China is expected to yield 10 bilateral agreements in areas such as agriculture, energy, infrastructure, science and technology, trade and investment, and tourism. 

The Philippine leader is joined by a sizable business delegation in a bid to secure investments that will aid in the country’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“I hope to return home to the Philippines with a harvest of agreements and investments that will benefit our countrymen and further strengthen the foundation of our economic environment,” Marcos said.

“Wish me luck on this very important trip that we are taking,” he later added.

Earlier, the Department of Foreign Affairs said deals to be signed during the trip cover the importation of durian, construction of bridges, renewal of the Philippines’ participation in China’s Belt and Road Initiative, and digital cooperation, as well as an agreement establishing direct communication between Manila and Beijing on the West Philippine Sea.

Senator Imee Marcos joins delegation

Sofia Tomacruz

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s state visit to China marks another first for the Marcos clan as his older sister, Senator Imee Marcos, is joining the Philippine leader’s delegation for the first time.

The senator was seen onboard the presidential plane and was present during the departure honors at the Villamor Air Base.

Like her brother, Imee holds personal memories of China as a young girl, joining her father, the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, on a five-day state visit in June 1975. 

During that trip, Imee, along with her father, mother Imelda, and sister Irene met with Mao Zedong. The same visit saw the elder Marcos formally establish diplomatic ties with China.

In departure speech, Marcos leaves out China’s COVID-19 surge

Sofia Tomacruz

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. made no mention of the ongoing surge in COVID-19 infections in China as he delivered a brief address at the Villamor Air Base before his departure for a two-day state visit to Beijing.

China, which ended its three-year zero-COVID strategy in early December 2022, has seen a dramatic rise in cases with reports of hospitals overwhelmed by an influx of patients.

Questions over whether Marcos would push through with his visit were raised ahead of the trip, amid the absence of reliable data from the Chinese government on the true severity of the surge. 

Marcos’ delegation is traveling in a bubble. Individuals can skip quarantine measures, but their movements will be restricted to avoid the spread of COVID-19. 

Marcos delivers departure message