Envoy to China hopes Marcos visit will mean more student exchanges

Envoy to China hopes Marcos visit will mean more student exchanges
This handout photograph released by Philippine's Office of the Press Secretary and taken on January 4, 2023, shows Philippine's President Ferdinand Marcos Jr (2L) shaking hands with China's President Xi Jinping (2R) during a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of People in Beijing.
Philippines's Office of the Press Secretary / AFP

MANILA, Philippines — Philippine envoy to China Jaime FlorCruz hopes that the recent state visit of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. to China will lead to more people-to-people exchanges between the two countries, particularly in education. 

Aside from deals on trade and investments, FlorCruz said he hopes that more Filipinos would consider pursuing higher education in China so the Philippines can benefit from the research, science and technology already developed there. 

"We need to encourage more Filipinos to pursue studies in China," FlorCruz said in Filipino during a televised briefing with state television on Monday. "Not just for them to study their language, but to study other fields such as the arts and science and technology as well, considering their innovations."

FlorCruz was himself on a study tour in China when Martial Law was declared in the Philippines in 1972. Blacklisted and unable to come home, he worked while studying at Peking University.

Peking University in Beijing is the top university in Asia according to the QS Asia University Rankings released in November 2022 while four others in the Top 10 are also in China.

Tsignhua University in Beijing is third, Fudan University in Shanghai is tied at 6th place with Zhejiang University in Hangzhou and Shanghai Jiao Tong University is 10th. The University of Hong Kong is fourth on the list.

On the other hand, FlorCruz said they also want to encourage more Chinese nationals to visit the Philippines in order to understand Filipino culture and history. 

RELATED: Pacts signed with China just ‘continuation’ of past agreements, analysts say

China has eased travel restrictions after a prolonged zero-COVID strategy, resulting in residents itching to travel. However, with the abrupt lifting of restrictions, a COVID-19 surge in some localities ensued.

FlorCruz said some Filipinos based in China have already contracted the virus, although they did not receive reports of serious cases and some have already been treated. 

"Our embassy staff is monitoring the situation and remains ready to help with anything our Filipinos need," he said.

Marcos wrapped up his first travel this year, bringing home 14 bilateral agreements with China spanning trade and investments as well as a communication pact on West Philippine Sea issues. 

However, analysts said most of these agreements were reiterations of deals previously done with the past administration.

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