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U.S., China laud Marcos win

‘President Biden underscored that he looks forward to working with the President-elect to continue strengthening the US-Philippine alliance while expanding bilateral cooperation on a wide range of issues’

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Photo : AFP/Bongbong Marcos | Facebook

United States (US) President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping are the first leaders to congratulate former senator Bongbong Marcos who is headed to win the 2022 presidential election by a landslide.

In a White House press release, it stated that Biden spoke on the phone with Bongbong on 11 May (US time) to congratulate him on his victory.

“President Biden underscored that he looks forward to working with the President-elect to continue strengthening the US-Philippine alliance while expanding bilateral cooperation on a wide range of issues,” it said.

The statement particularly mentioned the fight against Covid-19, addressing the climate crisis, promoting broad-based economic growth, and respect for human rights.

According to Ambassador of the Philippines to the United States Jose Manuel “Babe” Romualdez, Biden called Bongbong around 9 in the morning and affirmed that the US-Philippine alliance will be upheld.

Bongbong also invited Biden to his inauguration on 30 June, but the latter has yet to confirm his attendance.

US State Department Secretary Anthony Blinken also congratulated Bongbong, saying that it looks forward to working with him in strengthening the relationship between the two countries.

“Our special partnership is rooted in a long and deeply interwoven history, shared values and interests, and strong people-to-people ties,” Blinken said.

“As friends, partners, and allies, we will continue to collaborate closely with the Philippines to promote respect for human rights and to advance a free and open, connected, prosperous, secure, and resilient Indo-Pacific region,” he added.

He also commended the Filipino voters for exercising their right to suffrage.

“We commend the millions of Filipino voters who cast their ballots in this election, and we look forward to the official conclusion of the electoral process for the many offices in the national elections,” he said.

Looking forward

Earlier, US State Department spokesperson Ned Price noted that Washington is looking forward to working with Bongbong as the next Philippine president, particularly on “key human rights and regional priorities.”

Moreover, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Vice President Wang Qishan, through Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian, congratulated Bongbong and Sara for emerging victorious in the 9 May polls.

The Chinese government looks forward to working with the next administration to upgrade their “Relationship of Comprehensive Strategic Cooperation to a new height and bring more tangible benefits” to Filipinos and Chinese.

“With their vision for the Philippines and wisdom to navigate through different obstacles, I am confident that the Philippines under the next administration will surely demonstrate unprecedented unity to rise above all challenges, to recover from the pandemic, and to prosper,” he said in a statement.

“And I have no doubt that under the next administration, our bilateral relations will only become stronger, our peoples closer and our cooperation deeper and wider,” he added.

Taiwan, too

Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Joanne Ou congratulated the Philippines for the successful conduct of the elections on Monday.

“Congratulations to the Filipino people on the successful national elections on 9 May,” she said.

Ou also congratulated President-elect Marcos on his election, saying that Taiwan looks forward to cooperating with the new administration to deepen bilateral ties.

The Philippines is a key partner in Taiwan’s New Southbound Policy, and the two nations have maintained close people-to-people ties throughout the years, according to Ou.

Ou said there are more than 150,000 Filipinos in Taiwan, with the majority of them overseas Filipino workers or married to Taiwanese.

Bongbong secured more than half of the votes in Monday’s poll to win the presidency by a wide margin and cap a remarkable comeback for his family.

He and running mate Sara Duterte, who also won the vice-presidential race in a landslide, have embraced key policies of outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte, including his position on China.

The elder Duterte sought to pivot away from the United States, the Philippines’ former colonial master, towards China since taking power in 2016.

He has appeared reluctant to confront Beijing over territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

In a phone call Wednesday, Chinese President Xi Jinping told Marcos the two countries had been “partners through thick and thin,” Chinese state television reported Thursday.

“I attach great importance to the development of China-Philippines relations and am willing to establish a good working relationship with President-elect Marcos, adhere to good neighborliness and friendship,” Xi said.

‘Engagement’ with China

Under Duterte, Manila’s previously frosty relations with Beijing warmed as the authoritarian firebrand set aside an international ruling on the South China Sea in exchange for promises of trade and investment.

China claims almost the entirety of the waterway and has ignored the 2016 ruling by The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration that its historical claim is without basis.

It has reinforced its stance by building artificial islands over some contested reefs and installing weapons on them.

Ahead of the elections, Bongbong said he would seek “engagement” with China rather than confrontation over their rival claims in the South China Sea.

“We won’t solve our problem with China if we fight them,” Bongbong said in February.

“President Duterte’s engagement approach is correct because in my opinion that is the only way to resolving our conflicting claims with China.”

But Duterte has faced domestic pressure to take a harder line on China’s growing assertiveness in the South China Sea and in the past year insisted his country’s sovereignty over the waters is not negotiable.

In July, Duterte walked back on a decision to axe a key military deal — the Visiting Forces Agreement — with the United States during a visit by Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin.

Meanwhile, Bongbong’s spokesperson Vic Rodriguez assured that the Philippine government’s alliance with the US would be improved under the incoming Marcos administration.

“What I can tell you, you can expect and look forward to a better relationship with our long-time partner and ally in the United States and the foreign policy of president-elect Bongbong, it will be inclusive,” Rodriguez said in a television interview.

Rodriguez noted that the next administration will not be exclusive to anyone, and the interest of the Filipino people, as well as the national interest, will “never be compromised.”

With reports from AFP
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