Beijing vows to prioritize PH once vaccine dev't succeeds

By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora

July 29, 2020, 7:42 pm

<p>Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin <em>(MFA photo)</em></p>

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin (MFA photo)

MANILA – The Chinese Foreign Ministry assured that Beijing will prioritize the Philippines once it succeeds with the vaccine development for coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

"Since the outbreak of Covid-19, China and the Philippines have been standing together with mutual assistance, turning anti-epidemic cooperation into a new highlight in bilateral relations. The Philippines is a friendly close neighbor and we will give priority to its needs once we succeed in developing a vaccine," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said in a press conference in Beijing Tuesday.

The statement comes after President Rodrigo Duterte in his fifth State of the Nation Address said he personally asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to allow Manila to be the first nation to receive its vaccine once it passed all clinical trials.

Aside from China, Manila is also in talks with several international firms working on a candidate Covid-19 vaccine such as US-based Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, and Moderna.

Meanwhile, Wang said China also "appreciates" Duterte's South China Sea remarks, which underscored the Philippines' position in pursuing diplomatic means to counter Beijing's vast claims in the region.

"We appreciate President Duterte's remarks and stand ready to properly resolve maritime disputes with the Philippines through friendly consultations to jointly safeguard peace and stability in the South China Sea and the entire region," he said. (PNA)