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China's vice-president to attend Marcos inauguration in Philippines

Chinese Vice-President Wang Qishan will attend the inauguration of Philippine president-elect Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jnr on Thursday, according to the Chinese foreign ministry.

Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Tuesday that Wang would attend as president Xi Jinping's special representative, heading a Chinese delegation.

In a phone call after the election in May, Xi congratulated Marcos on his win and expressed hopes of deepening ties between the two countries.

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Wang also sent a message to vice president-elect Sara Duterte-Carpio, daughter of outgoing president Rodrigo Duterte, congratulating her on her win.

During his six years in power, Duterte sought cooperation with China, putting aside an international tribunal ruling in the Philippines' favour that dismissed China's claims to much of the South China Sea.

Beijing is seeking to maintain that relationship of "continuity and stability" under the incoming Marcos administration.

As one of the major rival claimants of the South China Sea, a key member of Asean and a treaty ally of the United States, the Philippines is critical to China as it comes under pressure from the US' Indo-Pacific strategy.

Xi has promised the Philippines "active support and help" for economic and social development in areas such as infrastructure, agriculture, energy, education, pandemic control and post-Covid recovery.

He has also said he hopes "the Philippines can continue to uphold its independence and autonomy in foreign policy".

Marcos has expressed a willingness to strengthen contacts with China at all levels and deepen cooperation in areas such as trade, infrastructure, energy, culture and education.

In 1974, a year before the two countries established official diplomatic ties, then president Ferdinand Marcos Snr, sent his wife Imelda and son, 17-year-old Bongbong to visit Beijing and meet Mao Zedong.

It was only last month that Wang attended the inauguration of Yoon Suk-yeol, president of South Korea, which is also a key US ally in the region.

The presence of Wang, 73, as Xi's representative in Seoul in May was the first overseas trip by a senior Chinese leader since the Covid-19 pandemic erupted in 2020.

This article originally appeared in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the most authoritative voice reporting on China and Asia for more than a century. For more SCMP stories, please explore the SCMP app or visit the SCMP's Facebook and Twitter pages. Copyright © 2022 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

Copyright (c) 2022. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.