Duterte flies to China next week

August 23, 2019
Rodrigo R. Duterte

THE Philippines and China will sign bilateral agreements in the field of education, science and technology, and economic and social development when President Rodrigo Duterte  visits Beijing next week, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said yesterday .

Speaking at a pre-departure briefing in Malacañang, Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Meynardo Montealegre said Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping will witness the signing of “a number of cooperative bilateral documents and memorandum of understanding.”

The DFA official, however, noted that some of the deals are still on the “vetting” stage.

“There are several agreements that are in the pipeline. Some of them are on the final stages of vetting but I cannot give you a specific number. It pertains to education, science and technology, and economic and social development,” Montealegre said.

Duterte will embark on a working visit to China next week, the fifth time he will visit the country since assuming office in 2016.

The President will leave on August 28 for Beijing where he will meet Xi for the eighth time. He is also scheduled to receive a call from Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan.

The Chinese Vice President will accompany Duterte when he watches the Philippine national basketball team game against Italy in the 2019 Fiba World Cup on August 31 in Guangzhou, China.

Aside from raising the country’s arbitral victory against China in the South China Sea dispute, Duterte earlier said he would also push for the “exploitation of natural resources” in the West Philippine Sea through the joint oil exploration deal with Beijing.

The Philippines and China signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for oil and gas exploration during Xi’s state visit to the country last year.

China has been pushing for its expansive claims in the South China Sea, refusing to recognize the 2016 ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) that invalidated its nine-dash line feature which claims virtually the entire South China Sea.

Meanwhile, Duterte has chosen to shelve the PCA ruling in exchange for Chinese economic perks to help fund his administration’s infrastructure projects.

Sidetrip cancelled

President Duterte’s side trip to Fujian province in China during his five-day visit to the Asian powerhouse has been postponed, a Palace official said yesterday .

Duterte was supposed to travel to Fuzhou, the capital of southeastern China’s Fujian province, to inaugurate a school building in honor of his late mother Soledad, who was a public school teacher and said to be a descendant of Chinese immigrants.

Chief of Presidential Protocol Robert Eric Borje said the postponement was a mutual decision by the Philippine and Chinese governments, citing logistical issues.

“For this particular visit there was a plan, and then the recommendation now is to move it to a later date because it is more appropriate to be done at a later date and not at this particular time,” Borje said at a news conference in Malacañang.

“It’s a decision that’s made mutually. It’s been postponed. We’re going to work on the plans. As to the dates we will have to work on it. There are certain things that need to be done further.”

Duterte announced early this month that he was scheduled to inaugurate a school building during his China trip—his fifth since assuming the presidency in June 2016.