President Duterte will be attending the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) on April 9-10, with its theme “An Open and Innovative Asia for a World of Greater Prosperity.” It will be a great opportunity for the President to develop closer ties with China and to fortify the Philippines’ role in Asian and global affairs.
The BFA was established on February 27, 2001, on a proposal by then President Fidel V. Ramos, former Prime Minister Bob Hawke of Australia, and former Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa of Japan, with Boao in China’s Hainan province as permanent site of its headquarters. Today the forum is a major global platform for meetings among leaders of national governments, industrial, business, and academic circles in the world for promoting Asian development.
It will be a propitious time for President Duterte to further tighten the bonds of friendship and cooperation that he established in October, 2016, when he first visited China. Since then Philippine ties with China have reached a point where China is now our top trade partner with $51.2 billion in 2017, an increase of 8.5 percent year-on-year. Tourism arrivals from China have doubled in the first two months of 2018, an increase of 5 percent year-on-year.
In the coming “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure offensive of the Duterte administration beginning this year, China is participating with donations of two bridges across the Pasig River, along with the Kaliwa Dam, the Chico Irrigation Project, and the Manila-to-Matnog South Railway. It is a period in Philippines-China relations that has been described as a “golden era”by Secretary of Foreign Affairs Alan Peter Cayetano.
President Duterte will once again be shaking hands with China President Xi Jinping in a reaffirmation of this close relationship at the Boao Forum where the Chinese leader will deliver the keynote speech
At the same time, it will be an opportunity for President Duterte to engage in personal diplomacy with Asia’s other leaders and place the Philippines in an optimum position to benefit from global trends. The Boao forums and meetings will open up more potentials in our international relations and fortify our country’s role in Asian and global affairs.