Xi Jinping thanks PH for fighting COVID-19’s Chinese stigma – Duterte
MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte said on Monday that Chinese President Xi Jinping had reached out to him, thanking the Philippine government for helping erase the stigma that China experienced due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Duterte shared during his press briefing, which lasted until early Tuesday morning, referring to the alleged discrimination — sinophobia — and criticism that Chinese people experienced after the latest coronavirus strain was found to have originated in Wuhan City of Hubei province.
“I have a sort of a note from President Xi Jinping, expressing his full support for us at this time, and citing what we did to her China, and of course to erase, not really erase but to counter the malign that they were suffering at this stage,” Duterte said.
“It’s not their fault that the virus originated from them. Who would want to invent a microbe to kill humankind, including your own people? So they are saying that they are ready, and I’d like to thank President Xi Jinping for his support,” he added, speaking partly in Filipino
Duterte also hinted that the Philippines would be prioritized by China, should it be able to produce a vaccine or an antibody that would neutralize the latest coronavirus strain.
“If it is from China, then you would have no problem, I think we can have a priority anytime. It’s in the other countries producing the antibodies. But if China catches up with them, then it would be good. Maybe a miracle will happen and civilization is back on its feet. That is how I see it,” he added.
Ever since the COVID-19 outbreak started, various rumors about the origin of the virus have circulated on social media and other platforms.
While authorities claimed that the outbreak originated from a wet market in Wuhan, other scientists have not discounted the possibility that the virus was a by-product of laboratories, incidentally located near the Wuhan market.
Earlier in his speech, Duterte also heaped praise on the Chinese government for the way it handled the pandemic, noting its strict enforcement of quarantine regulations — which he lamented was impossible in the Philippines. That, he said, led to the resumption of normal operations there.
“When China says stop, it would stop. When China says open, it would open. Now Hubei, where the coronavirus originated, they are now open again. The airports are open — because when Xi Jinping asked them to stay home [they did]. They have cut the number of cases. Nobody really went outside,” he said.
The Philippines has enjoyed a renewed relationship with the Asian superpower since Duterte assumed office, choosing to mend ties that were damaged under the previous administration of President Benigno Aquino III, which filed arbitration cases against China for its occupation of disputed islands in the West Philippine Sea region.
Opposition groups have noted the alleged negative effects of China’s influence in the country — like the supposed reluctance of the Philippine government to restrict inbound Chinese flights in the early part of the outbreak.
As of Monday, over 1.8 million COVID-19 cases have been recorded worldwide, of whom 114,063 have died and 421,500 have recovered. Mainland China accounts for a huge part of cases at 83,224, with 3, 341 with deaths.
In the Philippines, the entire Luzon is still under an enhanced community quarantine due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases.
Department of Health officials said that there are now 4,932 infected patients — 315 of which have already died while at least 242 have recovered.
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