Malacañang on Monday allayed fears that China could put pressure on developing countries such as the Philippines to support their commercial and political interests in exchange for supplies of vaccines for the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made this assurance after Singapore-based research institute Yusof Ishak Institute warned that China’s vaccine diplomacy is not unconditional and could put pressure on developing countries when it comes to geopolitical issues.
“What pressure would China apply on us? Our policy is friend to all, enemy to none. Independent foreign policy,” he said in a Palace press briefing in a mix of Filipino and English.
Roque added President Rodrigo Duterte shares many values with the leadership of China including a personal friendship with President Xi Jinping.
Philippine Ambassador to China Jose Santiago “Chito” Sta. Romana, for his part, denied that there was any attempt by China to put pressure on the Philippines in relation to the South China Sea dispute.
The Philippine government is also planning to conclude negotiations with China’s Sinovac Biotech for supply of Covid vaccines.
During the same Palace briefing, Sta. Romana said that China’s vaccine development is also advancing. “There are actually 3 or 4 chinese companies that are in the advanced stage of clinical trials (for their Covid vaccines),” Sta. Romana added. SOVEREIGNPH