BEIJING, China — President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Thursday, April 25, met with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang ahead of the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation here.
President Duterte, together with the members of his official delegation, first met with the Chinese President at the Great Hall of the People.
In his opening statement during their bilateral meeting, President Duterte said the two countries should continue to work together in order to explore new areas of cooperation and partnership.
He stated that the decision to elevate bilateral ties to a “comprehensive, strategic cooperation affirms the Philippines and China’s strong desire to further deepen and broaden this engagement.”
The Chinese President’s visit to Manila in November last year, according to President Duterte, was a “watershed moment” in the Philippine-China ties.
President Duterte also expressed gratitude for President Xi’s personal invitation to the Second Belt and Road forum. He said the forum gives another opportunity “to renew and reaffirm our valued relations based on mutual trust, respect, and friendship and must continue to grow strength and meaning in the coming years.”
Likewise, President Duterte congratulated the economic achievements of China as it celebrates its 70th founding anniversary.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, in a statement, described the bilateral meeting of the two leaders as fruitful and productive. He said the Chinese President recognized the Philippines as an important country in the Maritime Silk Road and drew parallelisms between China’s Belt and Road Initiative and the Philippines’ Build, Build, Build program under the leadership of President Duterte, whom President Xi calls a “true friend.”
The Chinese President also offered his deep condolences to the Philippines in the aftermath of the earthquakes that hit the country.
President Duterte, according to Panelo, took the occasion to welcome more projects for the Philippines under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) “based on the principles of transparency and adherence to international law while reiterating both countries’ commitment in implementing various projects at the soonest possible time, meeting targets closely and ensuring that proper procedures and requirements are observed.”
Panelo said President Duterte raised the issue of the West Philippine Sea during the bilateral meeting, particularly the situation in Pag-asa Island.
“Both agree that the situation can be managed by the mechanism of bilateral negotiations but it should not affect the cooperation being undertaken by both the Philippines and China and they look forward to a productive discussion on matters of mutual concern and interests,” the Palace official said.
“President Xi expounded on the importance of good neighborliness and proper handling of differences between the countries. While the Chinese leader acknowledged the inevitable of having challenges to the bilateral relations, he placed importance on the mutual trust that exists between the two nations in order to resolve the same,” he said.
The Chinese President cited the Memorandum of Understanding on Oil and Gas as an example where both the Philippines and China “suspended their differences for a joint exploration that would mutually benefit both countries and their peoples,” Panelo said.
The Chief Executive culminated the bilateral meeting with the Chinese President articulating his position that the Philippines remains China’s ally in Southeast Asia.
President Duterte “emphasized that both countries are allies, and allies strengthen—and do not destroy—each other.”
With regard to the BRI, Panelo said “President Xi manifested that China will provide more resources to Luzon and Mindanao to spur regional economic growth, as well as promote Clark Green City through the building of an industrial park.”
According to him, the BRI will also play an important role in the ASEAN-China relations, where the Philippines plays an effective role as a country coordinator, and in the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) through increased cooperation,” Panelo said.
Aside from China’s commitment in relation to the BRI, President Xi likewise committed to continue donating rice and fingerlings and importing Philippines’ local fruits to provide one billion yuan grant to the Philippines. The Chinese leader also mentioned during their meeting that the first group of Filipino teachers may soon start teaching English in China.
After their meeting, the two leaders witnessed the signing and exchange of two agreements. The first agreement, signed by National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Director-General Ernesto Pernia and National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) Chairman He Lifeng, was the exchange of letters on production capacity and investment cooperation between the Philippines and China.
The document proposes a project list which will serve as the focus of cooperation between NEDA and NDRC.
The second agreement, signed by Philippine Ambassador to China Jose Santiago Sta. Romana and Chinese Minister of Commerce Zhong Shan, was the Handover Certificate Grant-Aid for the Dangerous Drugs Abuse Treatment and Rehabilitation Centers Project between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the Government of the People’s Republic of China.
This is a ceremonial handover of the drug treatment facilities in Sarangani and Agusan del Norte provided by China through a financial grant.
After his meeting with the Chinese President, the Chief Executive and his official delegation met with Li, Premier of the State Council of China at the Diaoyutai State Guest House here.
President Duterte declared during their bilateral meeting that the Philippines “would like to reaffirm our commitment to friendship and understanding.”
“We envision a more comprehensive, strategic cooperation,” President Duterte said, noting that cooperation has expanded tremendously since his first visit to China.
President Duterte congratulated Premier Li on “what would surely be a successful hosting of the Second Belt and Road forum.”
He stated that the Philippines’ continued participation is an acknowledgement of the vision of a global connectivity for shared prosperity.###PND