By Roy Mabasa
President Rodrigo Duterte is scheduled to travel once again to China next month to attend the annual conference of the Boao Forum for Asia.
This was announced by Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi in a joint news conference with visiting Foreign Affairs Alan Peter Cayetano held in Beijing Wednesday.
The Boao Forum for Asia is a non-profit organization that hosts high-level forums for leaders from government, business, and academia in Asia and other continents to share their vision on the most pressing issues in this dynamic region and the world at large.
Modeled after the World Economic Forum held annually in Davos, Switzerland, the Boao Forum has its fixed address in Bo’ao, Hainan province, China, although the Secretariat is based in Beijing.
The forum known as the “Asian Davos” inherits its name from the town of Boao, located in China’s southern Hainan province, which has been the permanent venue for its annual conference since 2002.
According to State Councilor Wang, China welcomes President Duterte’s upcoming trip which is expected to further enhance the development of ties between the two countries.
Likewise, the Philippines will take the chair of the coordinating country moderating ties between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in August.
Wang said China will also work with the Philippine government to ensure the success of a number of events including the commemoration of the 15th anniversary of China-ASEAN strategic partnership.
During the joint press conference, Wang emphasized that China-Philippines relations have “entered their best period in recent years.”
“This is the status that the two neighboring countries are supposed to be,” he said.
Wang noted that the cooperation of the two countries has recovered and developed since 2016.
China is now the Philippines’ largest trade partner, the largest source of imports and its fourth-largest export destination.
He also pointed out that bilateral trade between the two neighboring countries reached $51.2 billion (roughly P2.7 trillion) last year, a year-on-year increase of 8.5 percent.
Furthermore, China has become the Philippines’ second-largest source of foreign visitors, and close to 1 million trips were made by Chinese to the country last year.
In addition, Wang said the two countries have so far managed the South China Sea issue properly.
“The most important experience learned from handling the bilateral ties is appropriately handle the South China Sea issue through dialogue and consultations,” he said. “It helps the bilateral ties as a whole and creates a good atmosphere for the cooperation between the two sides. Both of us agree to adhere to and maintain it.”