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Global Times

Xi congratulates Marcos on inauguration as Philippine president,'sets good start for pushing ties toward new golden era'

Global Times

By Liu Xin Published: Jul 01, 2022 12:18 AM

Chinese President Xi Jinping sent a congratulatory letter to Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos on his inauguration as president of the Philippines on Thursday and stressed that he is ready to work with the new president to continue the friendly relations to benefit the peoples of the two countries.

The Chinese top leader's congratulations together with the attendance of Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan, who acts as President Xi's special representative, to Marcos' inauguration set a good start to China-Philippine relations for the next six years, analysts said, noting that although the US' intensified efforts to draw the Philippines to contain China and hype topics on the South China Sea, the momentum for China and the Philippines to further develop relations and cooperation will not change.

In his message on Thursday, President Xi recalled that not long ago, he talked with Marcos over the phone and reached important consensus with him on upholding good-neighborly friendship of the two countries and joining hands for common development.

President Xi said he is ready to work with Marcos to chart the course for the development of bilateral ties from a strategic and long-term perspective, and continue to write a great chapter of China-Philippine friendship and cooperation for the new era to benefit the two countries and their people.

Marcos Jr., son of former Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos, was sworn in as the Philippine president in a ceremony at the National Museum of Fine Arts in Manila on Thursday, succeeding Rodrigo Duterte, local media reported.

Vice President Wang Qishan, who led a delegation to the Philippines, attended the Thursday presidential inauguration and later met with Marcos. During their meeting, Wang delivered President Xi's congratulatory message to Marcos and said that China-Philippine traditional friendship has lasted a thousand years. Wang pointed out that President Marcos and his family have deep feelings with China and also made great contributions to promoting China-Philippine friendly relations.

China always gives priority to the Philippines in its neighborhood diplomacy and expects to work with the Philippine government to promote mutual trust and to push bilateral relations on track toward a new "golden era," said Wang.

Wang also made four suggestions on future bilateral relations, including insisting on the guidance of top leaders to direct bilateral relations, linking the two countries' development strategies to cultivate new areas of cooperation, properly managing disputes to jointly safeguard peace in the South China Sea and adhering to international justice to promote Asia's peaceful development and the benefits for humanity.

Marcos extended his appreciation to President Xi and expressed welcome to Wang's visit. He recalled his visit to China with his mother in 1974 and said the new government also attaches great importance to relations with China and is willing to be engaged in the Belt and Road Initiative more deeply, and to work with China to deal with regional challenges and to push bilateral relations to a new level.

Chinese top leader's congratulations and the recent interactions with Marcos have fully shown that China attaches great importance to bilateral relations with the Philippines and that its sincerity to work with its new government to further develop relations and cooperation, Chen Xiangmiao, an assistant research fellow at the National Institute for South China Sea Studies, told the Global Times.

On May 11, soon after Marcos claimed a landslide victory in election, Xi sent a congratulatory message. On May 18, President Xi had a phone conversation with Marcos on bilateral ties and regional development, during which Xi noted that China always gives priority to the Philippines in its neighborhood diplomacy and maintains continuity and stability in its friendly policy toward the Philippines.

Relations between China and the Philippines have achieved considerable recovery and improvement over the past six years. The two countries have also explored effective ways to properly manage differences, especially on the South China Sea, and seek cooperation and smooth high-level exchanges - all the good methods to maintain relations will be carried on by the new president. Recent interactions also set a good start to better relations for the next six years, Chen said

On Wednesday, Chinese Vice President Wang met with Duterte, during which he expressed hope for the former president to continue to support the development of bilateral relations and play an important role in carrying forward the friendship, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

On the same day, Wang also met with Philippine Vice President Sara Duterte-Carpio, daughter of Rodrigo Duterte, who was sworn into office on June 19.

Analysts pointed out that the Duterte administration had saved and fixed ties with China which were worsened by the Aquino administration and handling the South China Sea issues through dialogue and coordination with China has also been seen as one of the significant legacies left by Duterte.

Xu Liping, a research fellow on Southeast Asian studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, expressed his hope for President Marcos to actively promote bilateral relations to a new level.

"I won't label President Marcos as pro-China as this is what some Western media had labeled him with malicious purposes. Marcos had the 'ice-breaking' journey to China with his mother when he was 17 years old and later engaged with China. These made him a politician of the 'China school.' He will take a more pragmatic policy toward China," Xu told the Global Times.

Xu pointed out that future relations with China will also focus on boosting the Philippines' economic and industrial development. The two countries will explore more cooperation on infrastructure construction, agriculture and oil and gas exploration.

However, there may be some twists and frictions on the South China Sea issue since the US has been ramping up efforts to lure the Philippines in joining its small circles to contain China, said Xu, noting that as the Biden administration is working hard to push its Indo-Pacific Strategy, it will spare no efforts to hype disputes on the South China Sea.

US Vice President Kamala Harris's husband, Douglas Emhoff, also led a delegation to the ceremony, US media reported.

The Biden administration has acted eagerly to improve relations with the Philippines after Marcos claimed victory. According to The Diplomat, US President Joe Biden "was the first foreign leader to congratulate Marcos over the phone even before official results were released." During her visit to the Philippines on June 9, US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman assured Marcos of "sovereignty immunity" since Marcos has faced several charges in a US court, according to the report.

The US is open to Marcos on improving relations and he may also visit the US in the future. But Marcos will not sacrifice relations with China to improve ties with the US, said Chen, noting that the US' great influence on pro-US groups in the Philippines and the growing nationalism domestically may be a main challenge for future China-Philippine relations.

How to fix the domestic division, avoid being abducted by pro-US groups, and how to balance relations with China and the US will be a test for the Marcos administration, said Chen.

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