MANILA, Jan. 3 (Xinhua) -- "I will be opening a new chapter in our comprehensive strategic cooperation with China," Philippine President Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos Jr. said when leaving for China on Tuesday for a three-day state visit.
"We will seek to foster meaningful relations and broaden our cooperation in various areas such as agriculture, energy, infrastructure, science and technology, trade and investment, and people-to-people exchanges," said Marcos at an air force base in Manila before his departure.
The president expected to bring Manila-Beijing relations "to a higher gear that would hopefully bring numerous prospects and abundant opportunities for peace and development to the peoples of both countries."
China is the Philippines' largest trading partner, a major source of official development assistance, and the second largest source of tourists before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Marcos' visit to China is his first official visit to a non-ASEAN country since assuming the presidency in June 2022.
Marcos said he will seize the opportunity to strengthen vibrant trade and investment relations with China as the Philippines accelerates its economic recovery.
Marcos also invited the Chinese people to visit his country as tourists, students and investors. "I shall push for the resumption of tourism and cultural cooperation between our two countries," he said.
"Aside from sharing the wonders of our archipelago with our Chinese friends, strengthened people-to-people exchanges will allow us to bridge gaps in understanding between our two countries at every level," he added.
He expressed gratitude for China's help with the Philippines' fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, saying it strengthened trust between the two nations.
"I recall our country's profound appreciation and gratitude when China was there to extend its helping hand in the form of vaccines, personal protective equipment, and technical assistance," Marcos said.
In 1974, Marcos accompanied his mother, former First Lady Imelda Marcos, on a trip to Beijing. The two countries established diplomatic relations in the following year. ■