Press Briefing

Pre-departure Briefing of Department of Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary for Asian and Pacific Affairs Meynardo LB. Montealegre on President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s Participation to the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing, China

Event Press Briefing
Location New Executive Building, Malacañan Palace


Good morning ladies and gentlemen.

I will be providing you the briefing on the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation and I will — first of all, provide you an overview of the Belt and Road Initiative.

After that, the program of activities during the Second Belt and Road program and the third aspect will be of the President’s bilateral engagements or other engagements during the forum.

As you all know, the One Belt, One Road or Belt and Road Initiative has been a major foreign policy of President Xi Jinping since it was announced in 2013.

And this initiative envisions global connectivity through infrastructure, facilitation of free trade, financial integration, and people-to-people exchanges.

There are four specific major policy goals of the BRI. One is better alignment of government policies including economic development strategies and plans for regional cooperation; two is strengthening coopera — coordination of infrastructure plans; third is encouraging soft infrastructure including trade, investment, regulatory standards, and improving financial integration; and fourth, bolstering people-to-people connections that is through export and cultural exchanges and tourism.

For the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, President Xi Jinping invited President Duterte along with 39 other leaders and heads of international organization to this particular forum. It will be held from 25 to 27 April in Beijing.

And the President will be one of the lead speakers at the Leaders’ Roundtable on 27 April 2019.

The main outcome document is a joint communiqué of the Leaders’ Roundtable of the Second Belt and Road Forum and this is currently being negotiated among the participating countries.

As I mentioned there are 40 world leaders to participate including members of the international organization. And you have here on screen the list of those leaders who will be in Beijing for the Second Belt and Road Forum.

The program of activities during the Second Belt and Road Forum include —- on the first day, on 25 April, there will be a parallel thematic subforums and a CEO conference. This will be participated in by invited ministers and officials as well as invited companies to the business event.

On the second day, April 26, it will be the opening session as well as the high-level meeting, exclusive to leaders who are invited to this particular forum.

On the third day is on the 27th of April, this will be the Leaders’ Roundtable. This will be also at the leaders’ level.

China has invited also participants to the thematic forums and there are at least 11 policy or thematic forums including policy connectivity, financial connectivity, people-to-people connectivity, think tank exchanges, clean Silk Road, economic and trade cooperation, zone promotion, as well as infrastructure connectivity, trade connectivity, Green Silk Road, Silk Road of Innovation, and subnational cooperation.

Thank you very much.


Q: Sir, parang merong ano ‘di ba bilateral meeting between the President and Mr. Xi Jinping. So will there be any chance that the President will raise the issue of the Spratlys, considering the surrounding of Chinese militiamen in the Pag-asa Island? And also there are aggressive — still aggressive activities in the Panatag Shoal, considering — although it’s about territorial dispute but it has something to do with trade relations and so on and the livelihood to the Filipinos.

ASEC. MONTEALEGRE: Thank you very much.

Yes, the President is scheduled to have bilateral meeting with President Xi Jinping as well as Premier Li Keqiang. I cannot speculate on the specific agenda items that they will be discussing.

But in the meeting with bila — with President Xi Jinping, they are expected of course to chart the course of further development of bilateral relations in various areas like defense, security, economics, and development as well as regional and international issues of mutual importance.

And with Premier Li Keqiang, they are expected to discuss a more detailed cooperation in various areas including infrastructure, trade and investment, people-to-people relations as well as regional cooperation.

As far as the South China Sea, the Spratlys that you have mentioned, the President has always been saying that we will stick to Philippine interest and positions but as I said I cannot preempt to what the specific discussion…

Q: Thank you sir.

Q: Sir, on the President’s bilateral engagements, will he also be meeting with leaders of other countries at the sidelines of the forum?

ASEC. MONTEALEGRE: We have not received any official request for meetings from other leaders at this point.

Q: Thank you sir.

Q: Sir, will the President also visit the Filipino community in China?

ASEC. MONTEALEGRE: We don’t have any scheduled — because the schedule of the President is full for the engagement in the Belt and Road Initiative and the forum so it’s not in the schedule at this…

Q: Sir, what are some agreements that are expected to be signed during the visit?

ASEC. MONTEALEGRE: Well, we are looking at some possible agreements in the areas of education, anti-corruption, official development assistance, as well as drug rehabilitation. But final — it’s in the final stages of consultations.

Q: How many agreements are these sir?

ASEC. MONTEALEGRE: We’re looking at five probably.

Q: Thank you. All bilateral agreements sir?


Q: Thank you.

Q: Asec, how about infrastructure?

ASEC. MONTEALEGRE: Infrastructure? You mean agreement?

Q: Agreement.

ASEC. MONTEALEGRE: I think there will — they are in the final stages actually so I cannot pinpoint if there will be one. But there are on going consultations on various agreements that will be discussed also.

Q: How much are we talking about ‘yung sa ODA? And what projects will be funded?

ASEC. MONTEALEGRE: I don’t have the ballpark figure but probably our — we can ask our DOF and our DTI or NEDA for the specific amount of these agreements.

Q: But the projects?

ASEC. MONTEALEGRE: The projects, I don’t have also the figures with me.

Q: Okay Asec.

Q: Sir, for those who do not have any idea about the Belt and Road Initiative, what is the Philippines’ role in China’s Belt and Road Initiative, considering that the Philippines geographically is not located in the ancient Silk Road?

ASEC. MONTEALEGRE: Well, as I mentioned the Belt and Road talks about connectivity of infrastructure for — including various countries. And for the Philippines, we would like to take advantage of the economic opportunities that the Belt and Road will provide.

There are no specific projects at this stage under the Belt and Road but during the participation of the President in the first Belt and Road forum, he was mentioning about or he spoke about concrete proposals for generating economic growth and tackling government economic challenges and the Philippines’ efforts in infrastructure through Build, Build, Build program.

So he said that the Philippines’ initiative can complement regional and international connectivity mechanisms such as the BRI and the ASEAN Master Plan of Connectivity.

So the President’s participation will be a continuity or a continuation of such proposals that he made during the first forum.

Q: Sir, are we expecting more infrastructure projects to come out of President Duterte’s attendance to the Second Belt and Road Forum?

ASEC. MONTEALEGRE: There could be. I cannot say for certain.

Q: Sir, can you elaborate please on the proposals which you mentioned from the President? Like are we talking about ports being built in the Philippines so that — so as to we can — so that we can connect to China directly? I don’t know.

ASEC. MONTEALEGRE: Well, it’s more of his program for the Build, Build, Build. So along those lines, it will be within that parameter.

Q: Good morning sir. I assume economic managers will be joining that — some economic managers will be joining the trip. Will there be any forum for them to maybe formally make a pitch again, as they’ve done in the past for China or Chinese companies or the Chinese government to invest in our infrastructure projects? If so, are there specific projects under Build, Build, Build that we would offer them?

ASEC. MONTEALEGRE: I mentioned earlier about thematic forums that will be held during the Belt and Road Initiative. At least 11 connectivity forums and the various economic ministers and other leaders of the Philippines who are invited.

For instance, in the policy connectivity, Secretary Ernesto Pernia of NEDA will be participating together with the Chairman and CEO of the Philippine Airlines.

As far as financial connectivity is concerned, DOF Secretary Carlos Dominguez will be participating as well as the President and CEO of the [Banco Oro?]. People-to-people connectivity, there will be participation from former House Speaker and Chairman Jose de Venecia.

For think tank exchanges, the President and CEO of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies; clean Silk Road, Chairman Dante Jimenez of PACC; economic and trade cooperation zone, the President and CEO of BCDA; infrastructure connectivity, Acting Secretary Eliseo Rio of DICT; trade connectivity, Secretary Ramon Lopez will be participating; Green Silk Road, Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat will be joining; Silk Road Innovation, Assistant Secretary Leah Buendia of DOST; and subnational cooperation, the Governor of Ilocos Sur.

So there will be some parallel thematic forums and they were directly invited by the Chinese government to participate in these fora.

Q: Sir, going back to the question, will our economic managers be making a pitch, as they have in the past for our — for investment projects under the Build, Build, Build?

ASEC. MONTEALEGRE: I supposed so. They will.

Q: Are there specific projects? I’m not sure if you can mention some under the Build, Build, Build which they will be offering?

ASEC. MONTEALEGRE: I am not privy to the specifics of such, if there will be any.

Q: Sir, there have been many controversial projects under the Belt and Road Initiative of China that have caused much distrust, the public, with regards to the motivations of China? Like for example, the Sri Lankan government handing over the support of the Hambantota Port to China. How will the government assure the public that this will not happen in the Philippines?

ASEC. MONTEALEGRE: Well, as you know the — our economic managers have always been vetting all these proposals, project proposals that are submitted to China. So I think I can — we can rely on that.

Q: Last na sir. How do you explain government’s continued trust in the generosity of the Chinese government, despite all these examples?

ASEC. MONTEALEGRE: We always want to maintain close relations with China and that has been exhibited over the past few years that the — that President Rodrigo Duterte has assumed office. So we’ll continue along those lines.

Q: Good morning. Doris from Philippine Daily Inquirer. Sir, how many — how big is the business delegation that you expect to join the President?

ASEC. MONTEALEGRE: I think DTI has the number of the business delegation. I don’t have the exact number. But there will be a number of business people who will be participating in the CEO conference.

Q: Are there private sector led initiatives there — by business, Filipino businessmen who will join the delegation which the President will attend as well?

ASEC. MONTEALEGRE: I think this is better addressed to DTI.

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SOURCE: PCOO – PND (Presidential News Desk)