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MANILA, Philippines – President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said he was surprised by China’s reaction to his tweet congratulating Taiwan’s newly elected president, and insisted he meant no ill will.
“Noong naging presidente ako, binati ako (When I became president, I was congratulated). So what do you do? It’s just common courtesy that you do the same to them. That’s really where it came from,” Marcos said in a one-on-one interview with GMA News anchor Pia Arcangel on Tuesday, January 23.
The President asserted that the Philippines’ commitment to the One China policy, signed by his dictator-father Ferdinand Marcos and Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai in 1975, remains.
“That has not changed, that will not change. We do not endorse Taiwan’s independence. Taiwan is a province of China,” Marcos added.
The controversial tweet was posted on January 15, with Marcos saying: “On behalf of the Filipino people, I congratulate President-elect Lai Ching-te on his election as Taiwan’s next president. We look forward to close collaboration, strengthening mutual interests, fostering peace, and ensuring prosperity for our peoples in the years ahead.”
That post on X, formerly known as Twitter, prompted a flurry of exchanges between Philippine and Chinese officials.
China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned Philippine Ambassador Jaime FlorCruz to file a protest, and asked Marcos to “read more to develop a proper understanding of the ins and outs of the Taiwan question and come to a right conclusion.”
The Chinese embassy also subsequently pointed out that Marcos was the “only head of state to congratulate Lai among 182 countries which establish diplomatic relations with China.”
Philippine Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro later came to Marcos’ defense, lamenting the “gutter-level talk” from China.
Diplomatic ties between Manila and Beijing have soured in the past year as tensions in the West Philippine Sea have escalated.
Marcos, unlike his predecessor Rodrigo Duterte, has adopted a stronger stance against Chinese activities in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone, describing them as “aggression and provocations.”
China has stood by its all-encompassing claim to the South China Sea, even though a Hague arbitral tribunal ruled in favor of the Philippines in 2016 and invalidated Beijing’s nine-dash line. – Rappler.com