Chinese President Xi Jinping in a phone call with President Rodrigo Duterte promised to prioritize the Philippines once China developed a vaccine against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), Malacañang said on Friday.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a press statement that Duterte and Xi had a 38-minute phone conversation Thursday night. It is where the two leaders reaffirmed their commitment to work together in battling the pandemic.
“The President mentioned to his Chinese counterpart the need for cooperation in research trials for Covid-19 vaccine development and underscored the importance of making the vaccine accessible and affordable to all countries,” Roque said.
Xi also assured the President that China would make the COVID-19 vaccine wold “available for all,” once it was created.
The Chinese President also pledged to make the Philippines as “priority” as he regards the country as a “friendly neighbor,” Roque said.
Duterte earlier said he is confident that China would be among the first countries to develop a COVID-19 vaccine.
“Itong China hindi ito hambog [China is not arrogant]. Wala itong ere [They are humble]. But they… they you know, they work, and I’m very sure that they will be the first one… one of the countries that would be able to come up with a vaccine,” Duterte said in a televised speech.
The “productive, open, and focused” phone call between Duterte and Xi happened two days after the Philippines, and China marked the 45th anniversary of the establishment of their diplomatic ties.
During the event, 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.”
“The exchange of letters demonstrated shared commitment to strengthen comprehensive strategic cooperation and articulated the resolve to uphold peace, stability, prosperity, and principles of international law, including the rule of law,” the Palace said.