With improved ties between China and the Philippines, the two countries have struck a bilateral agreement that loosens Beijing’s restrictions on the hiring of Filipino workers, laying the ground for employment of about 300,000 Filipinos in the country, said Philippines Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, according to Gulf News.
The labor deal is one of six agreements signed between the two countries during Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s four-day visit in China and Hong Kong, where he attended the Boao Forum for Asia and met Xi Jinping. According to the Philippine News Agency, Duterte returned home last Friday with a bunch of goodies, including promises of Chinese assistance for infrastructure projects, economic cooperation, and agricultural technology.
Gulf News reports that in addition to the general labor agreement, a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on the employment of 100,000 Filipino English-language teachers in China was signed during Duterte’s trip. The MOU covers details such as a monthly salary of $1,500, additional benefits, work hours, and other terms of employment.
“There is a big demand for English teachers in China. Chinese nationals want their children to speak English. They lack sufficient numbers of teachers who can speak English. Families want English-speaking maids who could help children with their studies. China also has a growing aging population,” Bello said, adding that since Chinese families are now able to offer decent salaries, China’s labor ministry is also hoping to recruit Filipino workers in other occupations, such as cooks, caregivers, musicians, and nurses.
While the news was not picked up by major news accounts on social media, a Weibo user with 1.8 million followers named Wang Xiaodong 王小东 cited it in a post, in which he wrote: “300,000 Filipino workers are coming and these English teachers from the Philippines will be offered $1,500 a month. [crying face]” The post so far has attracted hundreds of comments (in Chinese) echoing the same angry sentiment demonstrated by Wang. “While a lot of local graduates from English majors can’t find a job, China still wants to introduce Filipino English teachers. Can you please ensure the employment of locals first before helping other countries?” a typical comment reads.
Jeffrey Wilson, a lawyer at Junhe, one of China’s most respected law firms, tweeted: “No official confirmation on this from the China side. So maybe a bit early to say it’s a done deal. Also, a best only a MOU.”