By Genalyn Kabiling
Chinese President Xi Jinping is scheduled to make a two-day state visit to the Philippines next week amid improving relations between the two countries.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said President Duterte is expected to meet with the Chinese leader to “chart the course for the future of the Philippines-China relations.”
“The Palace wishes to announce the forthcoming State Visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping. Upon the invitation of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, Chinese President Xi Jinping will undertake a State Visit to the Philippines from 20-21 November 2018,” he said.
This will mark the first state visit of a Chinese President to the country in 13 years, according to Panelo.
“During the State Visit, the two Leaders will exchange views on areas of mutual concern and chart the course for the future of Philippines-China bilateral relations,” he added.
The Palace earlier announced that the President was expected to invite the Chinese leader to visit his modest residence in Davao City while he’s in the country.
The upcoming visit of Xi comes amid revitalized relations between the Philippines and China under Duterte’s watch despite a lingering territorial dispute.
Last month, the President took pride that the country has “normalized” its relations with China and now enjoys the “best of our relationship.” Duterte lauded the revitalized bilateral ties between the two nations during the visit of Chinese Foreign Affairs Wang Yi in the country.
“First is that we are enjoying the best of our relationship,” Duterte said, citing renewed economic and trade relations between the two countries.
“We have normalized our relationship and I thank you China for all the things that you have done for me,” he added.
When he assumed office in 2016, he temporarily set aside the country’s territorial dispute with China and focused on enhancing economic and defense ties instead.
The Philippines, meantime, has been designated as the country coordinator for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-China Dialogue Relations.
“The Palace welcomes the formal announcement of Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on the designation of the Philippines as the new Country Coordinator for the ASEAN-China Dialogue Relations. Our country will assume the said role until year 2021,”Panelo said.
Panelo said Prime Minister Lee announced the country’s designation during the opening of the 21st ASEAN-China Summit. He said Lee
has expressed confidence in the Philippines’ ability “to continue bringing ASEAN’s relations with China to greater heights.”
“With the President’s pragmatic, transparent and diplomatic orientation in his foreign policies, our country’s designation will significantly play a pivotal role in bridging a more solid partnership between ASEAN and China, particularly as both commit to the expeditious conclusion of an effective and substantive Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea that is agreeable to all parties concerned,” Panelo said.