By Genalyn Kabiling
President Duterte is expected to return to the country early Friday morning after a four-day visit to China and Hong Kong.
The President will bring home six bilateral accords on labor, infrastructure, and agriculture cooperation as well as prospective investments from Chinese businessmen sealed during his visit to Hainan, China.
Duterte, accompanied by several Cabinet members and other government officials, is scheduled to arrive at the Davao international airport shortly past midnight.
In the first leg of his foreign trip, Duterte attended the Boao Forum for Asia where he highlighted the country’s improved ties with China as “a positive and mutually beneficial engagement.” He likewise called for closer regional cooperation to attain collective prosperity while highlighting his own plans to increase public investments on infrastructure, innovation and interconnectivity to improve the plight of Filipinos.
“With China, we stand together in the war on criminality and the illegal drug trade. We are shoulder to shoulder in the fight against terrorism and violent extremism. Make no mistake: there can be no progress without stability in Asia’s lands and waters,” he said during the economic forum.
“As sovereign equals, the Philippines and China are partners in the building of the much-needed infrastructure that are building blocks and bridges of greater understanding between our peoples,” he said.
Duterte also met with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the BFA annual conference seeking closer economic and security cooperation between the two nations. The two leaders agreed to promote the bilateral relations into a higher level of friendship.
“We would like the fullest cooperation between our two countries regarding transnational crimes and address terrorism,” Duterte said during his bilateral talks with Xi.
“China and the Philippines can do more to boost military and defense cooperation under the framework of the 2004 Memorandum of Understanding on Defense Cooperation,” he added.
The two leaders also witnessed the signing of six bilateral agreements that include the hiring of Filipino English teachers in China, feasibilty study on a proposed Davao City expressway project, and a loan agreement for the Chico Dam irrigation project.
In Hainan, nine Chinese companies have expressed interest to explore business opportunities in the country’s real estate, tourism, agriculture and other sectors.
The potential business ventures amounting $9.45 billion are expected to generate around 10,000 jobs.
“Allow me to say that the growing trade and investments reflect the vigorous momentum of the Philippine-China relations and highlighting the Chinese position as our largest trading partner and our largest export market, together with Hong Kong,” he said.
“I hope for a more robust and healthy balance of trade in the coming years as the Philippines and China continue to enhance and increase trade links,” he added.
From Hainan, the President traveled to Hong Kong for a working visit, that includes a meeting with the Filipino community.