US President Joe Biden, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin are among the first world leaders to congratulate incoming President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. of the Philippines after he claimed a landslide victory this week. As of Friday morning, more than 98% of precincts had reported votes, with Marcos Jr. receiving more than 58% of the vote and more than double the votes of his nearest rival, Leni Robredo.
US-Philippine relations have been on the rocks in recent years because of President Rodrigo Duterte’s foreign policies, but Biden said he looks forward to cooperating with Marcos Jr., and Xi wished a similar sentiment, despite long-standing disputes over the South China Sea. The country has become something of a front-line of the dispute between Washington and Beijing, and while Marcos Jr. intends to follow Duterte’s Beijing-friendly policy, there are still uncertainties about the president-elect’s stance on the US.
“President Biden underscored that he looks forward to working with the President-elect to continue strengthening the U.S.-Philippine Alliance, while expanding bilateral cooperation on a wide range of issues, including the fight against COVID-19, addressing the climate crisis, promoting broad-based economic growth, and respect for human rights,” said the White House in a statement on Wednesday. Since the 1950s, both countries have shared a mutual defense treaty, making the Philippines a pivotal player in China-related conflicts.
The Philippines and China are neighbors facing each other across the sea and partners through thick and thin, said President Xi Jinping, according to a Chinese foreign ministry statement. “I attach great importance to the development of China-Philippine relations and am willing to establish a good working relationship with President-elect Marcos, adhere to good neighborliness and friendship.”