Filipinos in China are hoping President Benigno Aquino III’s ongoing state visit there will finally clear the air about the territorial row regarding the Spratly Islands.
Philippine-born Jaime Florcruz, Cable News Network’s Beijing bureau chief, said the Filipino community there is the most affected when a Philippine-China controversy erupts.
“Mahalaga ang communications kasi ang pinakadelikado na nakikita ko [ay] kung naghuhulaan tayo, lalo na ang ating liderato, kung anong iniisip ng kabila,” he said in an interview on GMA News TV’s “News to Go.”
Florcruz said the Filipino community in China, numbering about 2,000, is held in high regard by the Chinese people. The Filipinos in China are glad that Aquino is now there for his visit, he added.
The Philippines and China are among six claimants to the Spratlys, the others being Vietnam, Taiwan, Brunei and Malaysia.
‘Stranded’ since 1971
Florcruz himself is no stranger to China, having been “stranded” there since August 1971, when he was part of a 15-member student delegation that went to China for a three-week study.
During their stay in China, the Plaza Miranda bombing triggered the declaration of Martial Law, effectively stranding them in China.
“Nag-expire ang passports namin so naging virtual stateless [kami]… For many years sa umpisa, di kami nag-unpack kasi akala namin anytime makakauwi kami,” he said.
But after three years, he decided to embrace his life in China, and became a journalist, working at Time Magazine.
When the EDSA-1 revolt in 1986 gave him a chance to go home, he decided to stay in China, and eventually became CNN’s Beijing bureau chief.
He said he has no regrets staying in China as he became the voice of Filipinos and a bridge between Filipinos and Chinese.
Pinoys eagerly await PNoy
In Shanghai, meanwhile, Filipinos in the area also eagerly await Aquino’s visit, Malacañang said in a statement.
Philippine Consul General Charles Jose underscored the timeliness of Aquino’s visit, saying trade and bilateral relations between the two countries would further be strengthened.
“I think the state visit is very timely and very significant. We expect the visit to be able to further strengthen the friendly ties that exist between the Philippines and China,” Jose said.
“And we also expect the visit will promote cooperation between the two countries in many different areas including trade and investments, tourism promotion, culture and education exchanges and people-to-people contacts,” he added.
Jose said there are 4,000 Filipinos working in Shanghai and nearby areas as:
professionals, executives, and senior managers;
middle management, medical personnel, and teachers;
service staff and Filipinos working in restaurants and bars; and
overseas performing artists and entertainers.
Jose also said Aquino’s visit would spur economic growth for both countries as he expects Aquino to pitch the Philippines as an alternative investment site.
As part of his visit in China, Aquino is to keynote the Philippines and Eastern China Business Forum where he will invite Chinese businessmen to invest in the Philippines. — JE, GMA News