Beyond MOUs, photo ops: Envoy wants fulfillment of pledges, deals from China

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 18) — Beyond the signing of memorandums of understanding (MOUs) and photo opportunities, the country’s ambassador to China on Wednesday said the East Asian giant must "actually deliver" on its investment pledges and bilateral deals to further strengthen ties.

"I think that we should go beyond the signing of MOUs or the photo ops, and instead, after all those things are done, we hope to see the fruition. We hope to see tangible benefits that come out from a good PH-China relation," Philippine Ambassador to China Jaime FlorCruz told CNN Philippines’ Politics As Usual.

"If China really wants to have a good image in the Philippines, they need to deliver the promises, the pledged investments, the government-to-government projects, and the grants that we have secured during the last visit," he added.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Chinese leader Xi Jinping signed 14 bilateral agreements during his state visit to China on Jan. 3 to 5.

The trip yielded a total of $22.8 billion (over ₱1.2 trillion) in investment pledges, according to the Palace.

But FlorCruz acknowledged that seeing those into fruition is the “harder part.”

“So give us time. Let's keep an open mind when we view China. But also, we will coexist with China with the self-respect and integrity that we all wish,” he said.

RELATED: Marcos, Xi agree to peacefully resolve disputes in West Philippine Sea

What can he bring to the post?

"What I bring to the job, I think is first, knowledge of the language itself. Hindi tayo pwede ipagbili [We cannot be sold]," FlorCruz said, stressing that he can understand the nuances of Mandarin and capture accurately Chinese signals.

As one of the most respected China watchers, FlorCruz said he thinks he can be frank in discussions with Chinese counterparts in doing his job as ambassador to one of the country’s largest trading partners.

"I think my role is how to find ways to suggest changes that actually is not just good for us, but also good for China," he added.

Appointed in October last year, the envoy said he wants to promote people-to-people exchange and understanding, which he believes is key to avoiding any misunderstanding or miscalculation in both "official and people-to-people sectors."

FlorCruz is a retired journalist and was also former chief of CNN’s Beijing bureau for 14 years. He was a student activist in the 1970s who went to China for a three-week study tour, but was exiled after the president’s father—the late strongman Ferdinand E. Marcos—placed the country under martial law.