MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Ambassador Huang Xilian on Wednesday stressed the need for the Philippines and China to work together to fight the 2019 coronavirus disease (Covid-19).
This developed after Huang paid a courtesy call on Duterte at Malacañan, the Palace said in a press statement.
“President Duterte has noted (Chinese) President Xi Jinping’s handling of the health emergency,” the statement read. “As a response, Huang expressed solidarity with the Philippine government in its efforts to contain the spread of Covid-19. The Chinese ambassador also conveyed China’s readiness to extend assistance.”
On Wednesday, the World Health Organization upgraded the status of Covid-19 from epidemic to pandemic as health authorities worldwide continue to address the threat posed by the novel coronavirus which was first detected in Wuhan, China in December 2019.
Covid-19 has spread to at least 114 countries, infecting 118,000 people and killing more than 4,200.
The majority of infections and deaths have been recorded in mainland China.
The Philippines, meantime, has so far 49 confirmed cases of Covid-19.
Malacañang said Duterte extended sympathies to Chinese nationals affected by the continuing threat of Covid-19.
Duterte also extended his condolences to the families of around 20 people who died after a quarantine facility in Quanzhou, Fujian collapsed last week, the Palace said.
It added that Duterte also conveyed his wishes for the swift recovery of those who sustained injuries.
“He extended the Philippines’ solidarity with China and the international community in addressing the global public health emergency. The Philippine government donated 52 boxes of emergency medical and food supplies to Wuhan,” Malacañang said.
The Palace, meantime, said Huang expressed confidence that the Philippines will emerge “victorious” in fighting Covid-19, considering Duterte’s “strong” leadership and the help of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease.
“In China, the envoy said President Xi is taking rigorous epidemic control measures to contain the spread of the virus outside the country,” it said.
Continued economic cooperation
Meantime, Malacañang said Duterte and Huang reaffirmed Manila and Beijing’s commitment to further boost their economic cooperation.
Duterte, the Palace said, recognized Beijing’s continued support to his administration’s socio-economic agenda, and remained optimistic that China would continue to extend support to fast-track the infrastructure development in the Philippines as the two nations mark the 45th year of their diplomatic ties in June.
“He (Duterte) looks forward to a more robust trade with China, with greater and improved access for Philippine exports to the Chinese market,” it said.
Malacañang said Huang also ensured Duterte that China wants “deeper” cooperation with the Philippines, especially in infrastructure development.
“He (Huang) noted the steady progress in the joint infrastructure projects over the past two years,” the Palace said.
China’s investment in the Philippines rose significantly at PHP50.69 billion or USD962 million in 2018, higher than the PHP2.333 billion or USD46.3 million recorded in 2017. (PNA)