CHINA TO PRIORITIZE THE PHILIPPINES ONCE IT PRODUCES A COVID-19 VACCINE
Chinese President Xi Jinping has vowed to give priority to the Philippines in the event that it develops a vaccine against the deadly COVID-19 virus that originated in Wuhan City in China’s Hubei province in December 2019, Ellie Aben of Arab News wrote on June 13, 2020.
Xi made the commitment during a phone call with President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday, June 11, on the eve of Philippines’ Independence Day celebrations, which were marred by protest actions on Duterte’s inept handling of the pandemic and the provision of cash an food for more than 50 million people affected in Luzon Island alone. Earlier, Duterte trumpeted the story that China will produce the vaccine by September 2020.
Malacanang, the presidential palace, said the phone call lasted 38 minutes, during which the leader extended his warm wishes to Duterte and the Filipino people, who are celebrating 122 years of independence. The two leaders also reviewed diplomatic relations between the countries and agreed to work together to fight COVID-19 as part of international efforts to contain the virus while Xi was also concerned about Duterte’s lifting the termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the US, which has been crisscrossing the disputed maritime features in the Western Philippine Sea (WPS) that China had occupied and claimed as its territory. Some of those features are within the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the Philippines while Panatag Shoal is within the delineated territory of the archipelago when it was under Spanish colonial rule.
As Xi made another promise to the Philippines, China reported seven new cases of COVID-19 in Beijing, with those afflicted among the 10,000 people who visited a wholesale market that sells wildlife, like the Huangnan market in Wuhan City, the epicenter of the COVID-19 virus outbreak.