President Rodrigo Duterte might visit China before his term ends to personally thank Chinese President Xi Jinping for the 600,000 doses of Sinovac-made CoronaVac Covid-19 vaccines donated to the Philippines, Malacañang said on Wednesday.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made this clarification after Duterte, in a speech on Sunday, said he intends to visit Beijing “maybe at the end of the year when everything has settled down.”
Roque admitted that he was unsure of what the President meant, but assumed that it would be before Duterte steps down in June 2022.
“We don’t know but perhaps before his term ends in 2022,” Roque said in a radio interview in Filipino.
He said Duterte was really determined to express gratitude to Xi, noting that the Philippines and China had a strong bilateral relationship during his term.
“Of course, before he says goodbye to government service, he wants to visit China and thank President Xi,” he said.
On Sunday, the Philippines welcomed China’s donated 600,000 doses of Sinovac-made CoronaVac vaccines, the first vaccines to arrive in the country.
Duterte attended the arrival ceremony for the vaccines which are meant for frontline medical workers and uniformed personnel.
In his speech, Duterte told Chinese Ambassador to Manila Huang Xilian that he wanted to thank Xi for making possible the delivery of the first Covid-19 vaccine doses to the country.
“Mr. Ambassador, I’d like to just say that towards the – maybe at the end of the year, when everything has settled down – I intend to make a short visit to China to just shake hands with President Xi Jinping and to personally thank him for this donation. Thank you,” he said in a speech during the arrival ceremony of the Sinovac-made vaccines at the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City.
Duterte later told reporters that he wanted to visit Xiamen, before Beijing, to see the school building that was built in honor of his late mother.”Maybe I’ll go to Xiamen. There’s a school built to honor my mother. You know, my mother was one of the first educators of the Chinese school in Davao,” he said. SOVEREIGNPH