At PH-China bilateral, Xi Jinping meets ‘his old friend’

Bea Cupin

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At PH-China bilateral, Xi Jinping meets ‘his old friend’

LEADERS. President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. meets Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the APEC summit in Bangkok, Thailand on November 17.

Office of the Press Secretary

Two Philippine presidents – the current and one former – meet with China’s Xi Jinping on the sidelines of APEC

At the bilateral meeting of Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Chinese President Xi Jinping, on Thursday, November 17, there was one member of the Philippine panel who stood out.

“[Xi] was also very surprised to meet his old friend, President GMA (Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo), who accompanied me. And they had a few minutes of recollecting the meetings that they have had, which I think helped the tone of the meeting,” Marcos said in a video statement released to the media after the meeting.

Arroyo, who was in power for almost all of the 2000s, is part of Marcos’ delegation during his working visit to Thailand for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders’ Meeting (AELM).

The former president, now a member of the House of representatives, is an ally of Marcos who campaigned for him in the 2022 elections. This is Arroyo’s first time to fly with Marcos during a foreign trip.

Person, Human, Hand

Arroyo is known to have very close ties with China – when she was president and even to this day. A think tank characterized her as “receptive” to China, whereas her immediate successor, the late Benigno Aquino III, was seen as “provocative.”

In 2021, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Arroyo was “an old and good friend of the Chinese people” during the inauguration of the Manila Forum for China-Philippines Relations.

It was during Arroyo’s time when the Philippines entered into the controversial Joint Maritime Seismic Undertaking with China and Vietnam through their respective national oil corporations – a joint exploration of the West Philippine Sea, even if 80% of the site involved is within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

The JMSU lapsed in 2008 and was not extended, amid wide criticism that the joint exploration violated the Constitution and undermined Philippine sovereignty.

Marcos met Xi for the first time since assuming office on the sidelines of APEC. Marcos is fresh off attending the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit while Xi flew in from Bali, where the G20 Summit was held.

Also in Marcos’ delegation? His cousin, House Speaker Martin Romualdez, who also happens to be a “mentee” of Arroyo. The two are high-ranking officials of the Lakas-CMD – Arroyo is president emeritus while Romualdez is the current president.

Romualdez, who selected Arroyo as his Senior Deputy Speaker in the 19th Congress, said the former president was “definitely a big asset.”

“Her reputation and track record needs no introduction to anyone. Her advice, her counsel to our president is invaluable,” said Romualdez. –

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  1. ET

    With former President GMA supporting President Marcos Jr., it is now clear that bilateralism is the official approach on PH-China Relations. PRC through President Xi Jinping has initially won using the “Divide and Conquer” strategy of Sun Tzu as stated in the latter’s book entitled, “Art of War.”

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.