President Rodrigo Duterte called for strengthening the Philippines-China ties in facing challenges such as the COVID-19 crisis.
“As the entire world continues to face challenges to security and stability and the rule of law and with the rise of non-traditional and emerging threats such as the COVID-19 pandemic, further strengthening Philippines-China partnership takes on even greater significance,” Duterte said in a June 9 letter to Chinese President Xi Jinping.
“We must forge on and ensure that the potential of our special ties is fully realized.”
Duterte also assured Chinese President Xi Jinping that the Philippines is firm on its “commitment to preserve and build on the gains of our close partnership for greater peace, progress, and prosperity for our nations.”
Xi, meanwhile, responded he attaches “great importance to the development of China-Philippines ties,” according to a report by state-run news agency Xinhua.
Philippines-China ties amid COVID-19
In March, Duterte announced that he would ask the help of China if the coronavirus situation in the country worsens.
The Chinese government then donated more than 100,000 COVID-19 test kits, which were used by the Philippines’ Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM). The RITM then said some of the test kits are defective but later said they found them to be at par with those provided by the World Health Organization.
In April, a team of Chinese medical experts visite the country for a two-week mission to share technical advice on COVID-19 prevention and control, and exchanges of medical treatment experiences with Filipino health experts.
Just yesterday, the Philippines signed a commitment deal with China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) for a $750 million loan for COVID-19 funds.
The $750-million loan agreement seals AIIB’s commitment to co-finance with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) the country’s COVID-19 Active Response and Expenditure Support (CARES) program.
Although the Philippines and China have dispute claims in the West Philippine Sea, President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping are known to be close. Both countries have agreements such as loans and infrastructure projects.
“China is a close neighbor and valued friend,” Duterte earlier said.