Still friends with China: Arroyo elected board member of Boao Forum

Mara Cepeda
Still friends with China: Arroyo elected board member of Boao Forum
The former Philippine president considers Chinese President Xi Jinping a 'very important person in a very important country'

Years after her presidency, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s ties with the Chinese remain strong.

The Pampanga 2nd District representative was elected member of the board of directors of the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) held in Hainan, China.

Arroyo said in a statement on Wednesday, April 11, she is “happy” to be a member of the BFA board of directors.  

She praised Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping for keeping “good” relations between the two nations. 

“I’m very happy to be here in Boao Forum as a newly elected member of the board. I’ve been a participant in Boao for a long time. I’m very honored to be a member of the board,” said Arroyo. 

She even promised to help strengthen Philippine-Chinese relations. 

“I’m happy to be here at this time because with very good relations between the Philippines and China now and under the leadership of President Xi Jinping and President Rodrigo Duterte, I would like to add what I can to contribute to that very good relationship,” said Arroyo. 

THE MEETING. Arroyo, seated at the far right corner, wears red during the BFA board's meeting. Photo from Beijing Review

Arroyo also considers Xi a key political ally. (READ: 10 more Chinese companies to invest in PH)

“I am looking forward to whatever he has to say. He is a very important person in a very important country and we are all very eager and we look forward to the continuing leadership of China in the region’s economy and the world’s economy,” she said.

Pivoting towards China is an international policy decision shared by Arroyo and Duterte, who are known political allies. (READ: ‘Duterte knows what he’s doing’ in PH-China relations, says Arroyo)

Compared to her predecessor Benigno Aquino III, Arroyo was “considerably more receptive” to Beijing’s commercial incentives and was “apparently willing to compromise” the country’s claims, according to an International Crisis Group report. (READ: Why China prefers Arroyo over Aquin)

It was also under Arroyo’s term when the Philippines entered into a Joint Marine Seismic Undertaking (JMSU) with China and Vietnam. Under the JMSU, the 3 countries agreed to conduct joint explorations in the West Philippine Sea. 

Arroyo had also frequently visited China when she was still president. 

KEEPING RELATIONS. Arroyo talks to former United Nations secretary general Ban Ki Moon during the first general meeting of BFA members. Photo from Arroyo's office.

The BFA, which Arroyo attended this week, was created by former Philippine president Fidel V. Ramos, former Australian prime minister Bob Hawke, and former Japanese prime minister Morihiro Hosokawa. 

Held annually in Boao, in China’s Hainan province, the forum is meant to be a platform for heads of state, business leaders, and academics to discuss challenges facing Asia and how Asia can be at the forefront of economic growth.

It was during this same forum when Duterte said he needed China and loves Xi. – 

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at or tweet @maracepeda.