(Eagle News)–Chinese President Xi Jinping vowed the Philippines would be a “priority” once China develops a vaccine against COVID-19.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said this was the assurance given by Xi himself in a phone conversation with President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday, June 11.
“President Xi reiterated China’s commitment to the international community to make any vaccine it develops a global public good and that as a friendly neighbor, China certainly considers the Philippines as a priority,” Roque said in a statement.
Roque said during the 38-minute call, which was “productive, open, and focused,” President Duterte emphasized the need for vaccines to be available and accessible to all countries, including the Philippines.
Roque said the two leaders also discussed both countries’ progress in fighting the pandemic and their strategies to restart their economies under the new normal.
Xi has offered China’s full support to the Philippines in ensuring the supply chain especially of medical supplies and equipment, promoting the free flow of goods, and completing priority infrastructure cooperation projects in the country, the Palace said.
According to the Chinese embassy, Xi noted that since the outbreak of COVID-19, the governments and people of China and the Philippines have helped each other.
“I am glad to see that under your leadership, the Philippines has introduced a series of strong prevention and control measures and achieved positive results.I believe the Filipino people will certainly carry forward the spirit of unity and cooperation, successfully overcome the pandemic situation as soon as possible and restore production and living order,” Xi said.
Chinese state-run news agency Xinhua also reported that President Duterte during the phone call told Xi that “the Philippine side will always be a friend of the Chinese people and will not allow anyone to use the Philippines to engage in anti-China activities.”
Relations between the Philippines and China have warmed since President Duterte assumed office in 2016.
The former Davao mayor has opted to set aside the maritime dispute between the two countries, although he has already raised the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling in favor of the Philippines to his Chinese counterpart in at least one of their meetings.
The President has also reiterated the need for a COVID-19 vaccine, saying talking about an opening of classes without the same was “useless.”
He has offered an at least P50-million reward to any Filipino who would develop a vaccine against the virus.