Duterte expected to sign deal allowing hiring of more Filipino teachers for China

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President Duterte shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping when they met in Vietnam in November.

Beijing and Manila are expected to sign a deal allowing the hiring of more Filipino English teachers for China when President Rodrigo Duterte meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Hainan tomorrow, Philippine Ambassador to Beijing Jose Santiago Sta. Romana said this morning.

In a briefing in Hainan, Sta. Romana said next on Manila’s agenda was sealing a deal for the deployment of Filipino domestic workers in the mainland.

“There are some minor details still being ironed out, but if everything works, the agreement to open, to hire more Filipino English teachers for China, to open the Chinese market (will be signed),” Sta. Romana said.

“And there are also agreements to basically, to improve the groundwork for more exchanges in the future.We’ll give the details when the agreements are finally signed tomorrow,” he added.

Sta. Romana said Mr. Duterte was prepared to discuss “the whole range of issues” with President Xi when they have their bilateral meeting tomorrow during the Boao Forum for Asia international conference in Hainan.

“Of course, time is limited so I expect him to focus on the big issues, on the big picture, and basically it’s how to move, how to propel forward the friendship and cooperation between the Philippines and China as part of the President’s independent foreign policy, which is to make friends with everyone and to try to create no enemies as much as possible,” he said.

“The President will try to use this opportunity to discuss the Philippines situation, to improve bilateral relations further, and to further seek understanding, deeper understanding with President Xi so that bilateral relations can move forward despite the challenges that we face,” he said.

Sta. Romana said Beijing currently allows the deployment of Filipino English teachers to China on a “case by case basis.”

“There are Filipino teachers in China but they found the jobs on their own. You know, they sought it out and they are hired,” he said.

The ambassador said there used to be a Chinese rule that excluded the Philippines as a legal source “that they encouraged.”

“They wanted to emphasize, you know, what they called native speakers but they have relaxed it now,” he said.

“We noticed that they were allowing certain countries that were not strictly speaking native speakers but rather were former colonies of native speaking countries and so under that provision or under that— when they allowed that, it was very clear the Philippines was part of that, it could not be excluded,” he added.

Sta. Romana said China became more open to having more Filipino teachers after the relationship between the two countries improved during the Duterte administration.

“So, the friendship factor helped in the sense that oh, they saw it. You know, that whereas before, in the period of contentious relations, you know, they did not discuss this or no, that’s not possible. They became more open,” he said.

“So now they are more open, they are more accommodating and there’s growing need in China to learn English,” he added.

Sta. Romana also said that the growing Chinese middle class wanted to hire English-speaking Filipino domestic workers.

“As a matter of fact, the next thing that we want, that we are discussing with China is the whole issue of the domestic helpers because the Chinese middle class is growing, they look at what’s happening in Hong Kong, and there is a growing demand for English-speaking helpers,” he said.

“But of course, there are a lot of problems to be solved. You know, we want to make sure they are covered by social security, you know, that they’re not subject to unfair rules. So, we want the assurances,” he said.

“And so that one, there is no agreement yet. It’s still being discussed by both sides,” he added.

Nevertheless, Sta. Romana said there is growing interest on the Chinese side, particularly among high-income Chinese to hire foreign domestic workers.

“And of course, there’s a lot of details still to be resolved because if the Chinese market open up to us, they have to open up to other foreign markets. You know, they have to balance their policy,” he said.

“And from our point of view, we want assurance in terms of medical, you know, social security and other legal protection if ever we come to an agreement on this. But the potential is there and the demand is there. So, the prospects are actually quite good,” he added.

Sta. Romana said the Chinese labour market was already open to Filipino professionals, like engineers and journalists.

“International companies have hired a lot of Filipino engineers, there are advertising executives here. As you know, there are journalists here. There are a lot of your colleagues are working at China Central TV. There are more Filipinos now working here,” Sta. Romana said.

“So, on the professional level, actually the markets are open in terms of you know, because it’s an international market, you know, the international companies and some Chinese companies also hiring,” he said.

“So, I think the situation is already open. It’s a question now of just making sure that, you know, that we know where the opportunities are and that they are able to see the availability in the Philippines,” he added.

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