PRESIDENT Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. flew to China on Tuesday, January 3, 2023, for his first state visit to a non-Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) country.

In his speech before departure, Marcos said he is eyeing to strengthen strategic cooperation with China especially on key initiatives such as agriculture, energy, infrastructure, trade and investment amid the country’s bid to accelerate the post-pandemic growth of the economy.

He also vowed to pursue initiatives in priority areas to ensure food security, sufficient and stable energy, as well as programs on sustainable digital economy.

“I look forward to my meeting with President Xi (Jinping) as we work towards shifting the trajectory of our relations to a higher gear that would hopefully bring numerous prospects and abundant opportunities for the peace and development to the peoples of both our countries,” he said.

Marcos said 10 key bilateral agreements between China and the Philippines are expected to be signed during his visit.

He said it will be in addition to the over 100 existing agreements between the two countries.

“I hope to return home to the Philippines with a harvest of agreements and investments that will benefit our countrymen and further strengthen the foundation of our economic environment,” Marcos said.

“Aside from sharing the wonders of our archipelago to our Chinese friends, strengthened people-to-people exchanges will allow us to bridge gaps in understanding between the two countries at all levels,” he added, noting that he would also push for the resumption of tourism and cultural cooperation between the two countries.

The President said he will also discuss with President Xi political security issues of a bilateral and regional nature and will seek to settle problems in a friendly manner and resolve them to the mutual benefit of the two countries.

Marcos said he is also looking forward to expressing gratitude to China for its assistance in the form of vaccines, personal protective equipment and technical assistance during the onslaught of coronavirus disease (Covid-19).

The top government official was accompanied by his wife, First Lady Liza Marcos, and other ranking government officials and key private sector representatives.

Marcos earlier visited Indonesia, Singapore, United States, Belgium and Cambodia. (SunStar Philippines)