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Marcos: No shift from China to another superpower

ALL SMILES. President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. gamely poses for a selfie with Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian (in blue suit), Association for Philippines-China Understanding chairman Raul Lambino (left) and other guests during the Award for Promoting Philippines-China Understanding ceremony on Thursday, June 8, 2023. Alfred Frias

The Philippines has not shifted away from China despite its deepening ties with the United States under his administration, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said on Thursday after an event on the 48th anniversary of Philippine-Chinese diplomatic relations.

In an ambush interview, President Marcos said the ties between Manila and Beijing “have not changed in any fundamental sense.”

“Some people have said that the Philippines has shifted its policy away from the People’s Republic (of China) to other powers… that is certainly not true. We have not shifted away from China in any way or

whatsoever,” Mr. Marcos said at the awarding ceremony of the Association for Promoting Philippines China Understanding (APPCU).

“We continue to foster the friendship, relationship, the partnership that we have been developing with China since 1974 and 1975 when it became official,” he added.

The President said the search continues for solutions that will address the challenges being faced jointly by the Philippines and China.

He reiterated that the differences between the two nations do not define the entirety of their relations.

“Now, of course, as to the differences between China and the Philippines, certainly they exist, but it is not something that will define our relationship. It is something that we will continue to work, to resolve and make sure that the peace and the safe passage across the South China Sea and the West Philippine Sea are ensured,” Mr. Marcos said.

The President witnessed the APPCU event at the Manila Hotel, where his predecessor, former President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, was one of the awardees.

Duterte was not present during the ceremony, with former Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea receiving the Hall of Fame award on the former Chief Executive’s behalf.

Medialdea also read the message of the former President to the attendees of the novel award-giving body paying special tribute to Filipinos who made efforts through time in promoting friendly ties and mutual understanding between the Philippines and China.

During Duterte’s presidency, Manila and Beijing maintained cordial ties despite China’s incursions in the West Philippine Sea.

The Duterte administration also partnered with the Chinese government for the development of several infrastructure projects in the country and received pandemic aid such as coronavirus vaccines.

Under the Marcos administration, the United States expanded its Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement with Manila and had its Vice President Kamala Harris visit Palawan – the province closest to the West Philippine Sea where Chinese ships have sailed just kilometers away — last November.

Other recipients of the APPCU award besides Duterte were Carlos Chan, former Special Envoy of the President to the People’s Republic of China; Rigoberto Tiglao, a columnist and former Ambassador; Jaime

Cruz, former Special Envoy to the People’s Republic of China for Trade and Investments; Rose Tecson, Director of the Satellite Office of Vice President Sara Duterte in Davao City; and Jose Ong Tajan, former chairman of the Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Baguio City.

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