PH, China expected to forge closer bilateral cooperation during Xi’s state visit to PH

Published November 18, 2018, 2:46 PM

by Patrick Garcia

By Genalyn Kabiling

PORT MORESBY — The Philippines and China are expected to forge closer bilateral cooperation when Chinese President Xi Jinping visits the country on November 20 and 21.

Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III (Manila Bulletin)
Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III
(Manila Bulletin)

Several China-funded infrastructure deals are expected to be signed during the “historic” and “significant” state visit of Xi to the Philippines amid revitalized relations between the two countries, according to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III.

The proposed oil exploration deal between the Philippines and China is among the agreements being considered for signing.

“His visit is quite significant because it is a return visit to the state visit of the President two years ago where President Duterte very wisely turned the foreign policy of the Philippines towards ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and Asia particularly to China,” Dominguez said during a media interview at the sidelines of a regional summit in Papua New Guinea.

“These face-to-face meetings are so important because they promote understanding and goodwill between the leaders but also show a good example to their citizens that, you know, the Philippines and China should cooperate more closely and cooperation comes from understanding each other, each other’s positions very well,” he added.

Dominguez, who will be the secretary-in-attendance during Xi’s visit, assured that preparations were underway to ensure a smooth and productive visit of the Chinese leader. This is Xi’s first state visit to the Philippines.

“The Philippines is preparing very hard for this historic meeting between the President of the Philippines and the President of China. It’s actually his first visit as President of China to the Philippines,” he said.

Dominguez said the proposed financing agreements for projects to be signed during Xi’s visit were currently being reviewed by different departments.

These projects include New Centennial Water Source-Kaliwa Dam Project, the southern railway connecting Manila and Bicol, the Subic-Clark railway, and the Mindanao railway system.

Asked if the joint oil exploration deal will also be signed, Dominguez said: “I believe that’s part of the agreements that is being considered and Energy Secretary (Alfonso) Cusi is leading the effort in this area.”

Earlier, the Palace announced that Xi accepted Duterte’s invitation to undertake a state visit to the Philippines. It will be the first State Visit of a Chinese President in 13 years, according to Presidential Spokesman Salvador 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,” Panelo said.

Last month, the President took pride that the country has “normalized” its relations with China and now enjoys the “best of our relationship.”

“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,” said Duterte who sought to closer economic ties with China while letting a bilateral dialogue manage the dispute in the South China Sea since he assumed office in 2016.