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Marcos leaves for China state visit

January 3 ------ President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. will embark on a State Visit to China today, his first trip in the New Year, upon the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Marcos’ trip, which will be until January 5, is seen to boost the relationship between the Philippines and China amid ongoing tensions in the West Philippine Sea. “There is an expectation that the state visit will set the tone of bilateral relations between the two countries in the next five to six years,” Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Assistant Secretary for Asian and Pacific Affairs Nathaniel Imperial said. He added that the trip is expected to yield a deal establishing “direct communication between the foreign ministries of both countries at various levels” to avoid mishaps in the disputed waters. The State Visit is also set to reaffirm the “cordial and neighborly” relations between the two countries and “ensure continuity in many facets of the bilateral relationship and chart new areas of engagement.”

Meanwhile, Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual said Marcos’ trip to China would strengthen the trade and investment relations between the two countries, noting that the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has organized meetings for the President with major Chinese companies. “The President’s visit to China is a recognition that it is an important trading and investment partner of our country,” he said. “The visit will pave the way for further strengthening our trade and investment relations, particularly as we work to recover from the pandemic and position the Philippines as a regional hub for sustainable and innovative manufacturing and services industries,” he added.

China was the Philippines’ top trade partner in 2021, with total trade valued at $38.35 billion. It was also the country’s second-largest export market, worth $11.55 billion, and a leading source of imports valued at $26.8 billion. President Marcos will be going to China despite the threat of Covid-19. According to Imperial, Manila and Beijing agreed on a “bubble arrangement” to minimize the risk of exposure to the virus. “We have received assurances from our Chinese host that all arrangements are being made to ensure the safety of the President and the delegation during the visit,” he said.

China has reported an increase in Covid-19 cases, with countries, including the Philippines, tightening protocols for travelers from China. “Following the recent increase in Covid-19 cases in China, there is a need for the country to intensify the monitoring and implementation of border control protocols for incoming individuals, especially from China, at all ports of entry,” a memorandum from the Department of Health (DOH) read.

Imperial said the State Visit would be the first bilateral visit of President Marcos to a non-ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) country since assuming the Presidency in July last year. It will also be his second face-to-face meeting with Xi in less than two months.



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