Duterte, Xi meeting focused on economic ties, cooperation expansion

MANILAChinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua said the meeting between President Rodrigo R. Duterte and China's President Xi Jinping will focus on further advancing the economic partnership between Manila and Beijing and expanding other aspects of cooperation.

Duterte is in Hainan, China for the 2018 Boao Forum for Asia (BFA), themed An Open and Innovative Asia for a World of Greater Prosperity.

In a statement sent to the media Tuesday, Zhao said the upcoming bilateral meeting between the two leaders is the "first of its kind" since the election of a new Chinese leadership in March.

This "bears vital significance of carrying forward" China and the Philippines' friendship as it further opens up a "new vista" for the two countries' economic partnership in the future, he explained.

The envoy said Xi and Duterte will exchange views on seizing important opportunities to jointly build the 21st Century Maritime Silk Roada way to advance the synergy between the development strategies of Beijing and Manila, deepen all-around practical cooperation and secure common development.

The 21st Century Maritime Silk Road refers to the One Belt, One Road initiative of the Chinese government, which aims to accelerate development through seamless flow of trade and capital between Asia and the rest of the world.

Over a period of more than one year, Chinese-Philippine relations have achieved an overall turnaround and enjoyed a sustained growth, with the series of engagements between leaders of the two nations.

"The practical cooperation between our two countries has garnered steady support from three main pillars of political and security affairs, economic relations and trade, and people-to-people exchanges, which keep yielding more fruits with each passing day," said Zhao.

Xi and Duterte have met each other several times on both bilateral and multilateral occasions. Last November, Li Keqiang, Premier of the State Council of China, also paid an official visit to the Philippines.

There was also the enhanced sharing of governance experiences between the two countries' two ruling parties, the Communist Party of China and the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan.

On the long-standing dispute in the South China Sea, the two countries established the Bilateral Consultation Mechanism on the South China Sea (BCM), where all issues concerning the contested region would be tackled formally.

According to the Chinese embassy, China and the Philippines, since 2016, have signed more than 40 cooperation documents. In 2017, its trade volume exceeded USD50 billion for the first time, making China the Philippines' top trading partner, top import origin and the fourth largest export market.

China's investment in the Philippines reached USD53.84 million in 2017 alone, representing a year-on-year increase of 67 percent.

Zhao said infrastructure and industrial capacity cooperation programs, such as the Chico River Pump Irrigation Project, Kaliwa Dam Project, two bridges over the Pasig River and Chinese industrial parks are also making steady progress.

Zhao believes the Philippines is bound to benefit from the Belt and Road initiative.

"Ever since the ancient times, China and the Philippines have been profoundly defined by a history of friendship and cooperation thanks to our geographic proximity, kinship amity and cultural affinity," he said.

"Looking out to the future, as China and the whole world stand at a fresh historic juncture to materialize the Belt and Road Initiative in a spirit of joint consultation, building and sharing, the Philippines is destined to be one of the most important participants, contributors and beneficiaries," the envoy said. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency