Neighbors facing each other across the sea and partners through thick and thin, China and the Philippines have made joint efforts over recent years to consolidate and enhance their bilateral relations, which has not only brought benefits to the people of both countries, but also contributed to regional peace and stability at large.
Despite the United States' unceasing efforts to drive a wedge between them, the two countries have set a good example in shelving their South China Sea disputes and focusing on common development since incumbent Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte took office in 2016. That provides his successor, Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos, with a clear direction to further strengthen bilateral cooperation.
The congratulatory message President Xi Jinping sent Marcos on Wednesday, immediately after he won the presidential election, indicates the great significance China attaches to bilateral relations.
Son of former Philippine president Ferdinand Emmanuel Edralin Marcos, who had made historic contributions to the founding and development of China-Philippines relations in the 1970s and 1980s, Macros Jr has every reason to carry forward that legacy.
As President Xi pointed out in his message, both China and the Philippines are at a critical stage of development and their relations enjoy important opportunities and broad prospects. Marcos, who also emphasized that the economy, education and infrastructure construction will be the key areas for his team, is expected to seize the opportunities to maintain the positive momentum of bilateral cooperation, and upgrade the two countries' comprehensive strategic partnership to new heights.
Notably, when US President Joe Biden called Marcos on Wednesday to offer his congratulations, he underscored that he looks forward to strengthening the US-Philippines Alliance. This was a phrase that the US kept repeating to goad the former Benigno Aquino III administration of the Philippines to act as a de facto pawn of Washington in the region. This led to the Aquino III administration sacrificing the Philippines' interests and regional stability for the US' narrow ends.
With his campaign promise of more balanced diplomacy between China and the US, Duterte's winning of the election six years ago showed that Filipinos were fed up of being used as a piece on the US chessboard.
The comparatively stable development of the country despite the great difficulties created by the COVID-19 pandemic since then, should serve to convince Marcos that this is the right choice. There is no sense in him repeating the errors of Aquino, even though the US will do all it can to persuade him to do so.
It is to be hoped that Marcos will not be swayed by any blandishments or coercion on the part of the US and will act on his campaign promise that he would seek "engagement" with China rather than confrontation as that will best serve the interests of his own country and the region.