PRESIDENT Marcos Jr. left for Beijing today for a state visit and said he plans to shift relations with the country’s giant neighbor to a “higher gear” and invite more Chinese citizens to come to the Philippines.
Marcos made the announcement as other countries tightened restrictions on arrivals from China, which has been experiencing a fresh surge of coronavirus infections. These restrictions include pre-flight COVID-19 tests or testing upon arrival.
In the Philippines, the Department of Health has ordered heightened surveillance on travelers from China. It said there was a need for intensified monitoring and implementation of border control protocols for incoming individuals.
“As our doors open up in the new normal, I will invite our Chinese neighbors to once again return to the Philippines as tourists, as students, investors,” Marcos said in his departure statement.
Strengthened people to people exchanges would foster better understanding between the two countries, he said.
“I shall push for the resumption of tourism and cultural cooperation between our two countries,” he said.
He expects to sign more than 10 key bilateral agreements with China during his state visit.
Marcos said his visit would open “a new chapter in our Comprehensive Strategic Cooperation with China.”
“I look forward to my meeting with President Xi as we work towards shifting the trajectory of our relations to a higher gear that would hopefully bring numerous prospects and abundant opportunities for the peace and development to the peoples of both our countries,” he said.
He also said he plans to discuss bilateral and regional political-security issues with Beijing.
“The issues between our two countries are problems that do not belong between two friends such as Philippines and China,” he said. “We will seek to resolve those issues to mutual benefit of our two countries.”
This comes amid continued tension in the West Philippine Sea, which China has been claiming almost in its entirety.
The President said that during his China visit, he would pursue initiatives in the following priority areas: agricultural sector; the guarantee of food supply; the guarantee of food; energy; and the digital economy.
“I hope to return home to the Philippines with a harvest of agreements and investments that will benefit our countrymen and further strengthen the foundation of our economic environment,” he said.
He also said the Philippines is grateful for China’s assistance for the Philippines at the height of the pandemic, when it provided vaccines, personal protective equipment, and technical assistance.
Banner photo credit: Malacañang