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MANILA, Philippines – President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. named veteran journalist Jaime FlorCruz, one of the world’s most respected China watchers, as the Philippines’ new ambassador to Beijing.
FlorCruz, former CNN Beijing bureau chief, was also an anti-Marcos activist who was exiled in China under the President’s father and namesake, the dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos, in the 1970s.
By appointing FlorCruz, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. follows the lead of his predecessor, Rodrigo Duterte, in naming a veteran China journalist as the country’s envoy to Beijing.
FlorCruz’s predecessor was the late ambassador Chito Santa Romana, former Beijing bureau chief of ABC News, who died in office in April this year at the age of 74. Like FlorCruz, Santa Romana was also an anti-Marcos activist in the 1970s.
FlorCruz, who retired from CNN in 2014, covered key events in China including the 1989 Tiananmen massacre, the death of Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping, the 1997 Hong Kong handover, and the 2008 Olympics, among others.
How FlorCruz ended up in China in the first place is because of the first Marcos president, the current President’s father and namesake.
In 1971, FlorCruz, then an activist student leader, flew to China for a three-week study tour. But when the first Marcos president put the Philippines under Martial Law, the blacklisted FlorCruz was forced to go on exile in China.
There, FlorCruz worked and studied at the same time, eventually earning a degree in Chinese history from Peking University. Before landing the coveted CNN Beijing bureau chief role, he worked for Newsweek and was TIME’s Beijing bureau chief.
FlorCruz’s intimate knowledge of China will come in handy.
The Philippines, like several other Asian neighbors, has an ongoing territorial dispute with China. At the same time, China is a key economic partner of the Philippines.
Under the Duterte administration, Marcos’ immediate predecessor, the Philippines’ ties to China seemingly strengthened. Duterte publicly favored close ties with China over a close relationship with Western powers, particularly the US.
Marcos seems to be taking a different path. During a September 2022 visit to New York for the United Nations General Assembly, Marcos said he could not “see the Philippines in the future without having the United States as a partner.”
On the Philippines’ dispute with China, Marcos said he’d follow “any approach that will work,” be it bilateral or multilateral. – Rappler.com