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Sen. Pimentel III: PH Will Get ‘Priority Access’ if China Develops COVID-19 Vaccine

The Association for Philippines-China Understanding (APCU) recently held an online forum on “Philippines-China Relations Today” with Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III via Zoom. They tackled topics from COVID-19 to the outlook of the relations in terms of the future Philippine presidential candidates.


“Overall Friendly Relationship and Cooperation” between the Philippines and China During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Speaking of the current times, Pimentel said, “COVID-19 is a test of character and also, of friendship.” 

Pimental shared, “President Xi has assured President Duterte that the Philippines will get ‘priority access’ if and when China develops a COVID-19 vaccine.”

“President Xi promises to make the Chinese vaccine ‘a global public good,'” Pimentel added.

The International Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee (IDCPC) also made a standing offer to donate China’s medicine, Lianhua Qingwen, to the Philippines. Lianhua is touted to effectively treat COVID-19 symptoms.

In addition, Pimentel presented a list of China’s donations to the Philippines. The first donation on April 17, 2020 included 100,000 testing kits and surgical masks, 40,000 N95 masks, 50,000 PPEs, 5,000 face shields, and 30 ventilators. China then gave additional donations in May, July, and August. The August donation included P1 million in cash.


Trade and infrastructure

Pimentel also talked about the various results of President Xi’s state visit to the Philippines in November 2018. As a result of the state visit, they agreed to combat transnational crimes, including job-related crimes, telecommunications fraud, illegal online gambling, cybercrimes, human trafficking, and illegal wildlife trade, among others.

“If it’s illegal, there should be a crackdown,” Pimentel said. “We should not change rules just on a whim. Our reputation also as an investment destination will be ruined if we are appearing to be misleading people,” he added.

They would also actively implement the 6-year Development Program for Trade and Economic Cooperation (2017-2022), according to Pimentel. Pimentel also mentioned Philippines-China bilateral cooperation on infrastructure, such as the Philippine National Railways South Long-Haul Project. Pimentel even called China “a leader in railway technology.”

Moreover, Pimentel spoke of trade relations between the two countries. According to him, in 2019, China was the Philippines’ top trading partner, as it made up 18.51% of total trade. China was also the Philippines’ largest source of imports and the fourth largest export market, according to Pimentel.

He also shared that a large number of Chinese companies are investing in the Philippines. One well-known investment is that of China Telecom in Dito Telecommunity, amounting to more than $5 billion, and another is the Panghua Group of China, which is eyeing to put in $3.5 billion to build an integrated steel plant in Mindanao, he said.

Looking to the future, Pimentel was also asked about the candidates for the next Philippine president from his political party. He said, ” We can consider Manny Pacquiao. We also have as member, Senator Bong Go.”

Relations between the CPC and PH’s political parties

“I personally know of the effort of the [Communist Party of China or CPC] to  maintain close and friendly relations with the various Philippine political parties,” Pimentel said. “I have seen CPC extend its hand of friendship to Lakas, NP and the other parties by making sure they are represented in the various activities organized by CPC for political parties.”

In February 2017, the CPC and PDP Laban, which is Pimentel’s political party, entered into a Memorandum on Exchanges and Cooperation. PDP Laban has also sent four delegations to the People’s Republic of China, of which Pimentel led two.

Looking to the future, Pimentel was also asked about the candidates for the next Philippine president from his political party. He said, ” We can consider Manny Pacquiao. We also have as member, Senator Bong Go.”

A positive partnership

Closing the event, Pimentel reiterated, “Let us welcome the rise of China just as we have welcomed the rise of the US, for as long as all powerful nations remain responsible members of our community of nations.”

“Positive partnership must be continuously explored for the two nations’ mutual benefit,” he added.

In line with the 1975 Joint Communique between the Philippines and China, Pimentel said that “peaceful co-existence, mutual respect, and beneficial cooperation will remain as the yardstick of Philippines-China relations today.”


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