THE coming visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Manila is expected to make the relations between China and the Philippines “a new model of international relations,” Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua said late Thursday.
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Xi will travel to Manila on Nov. 20 for a state visit, and it will be the first by a Chinese head of state since 2005.
“We have every reason to believe that this visit will enormously boost China-Philippines relations in the new era, position our relations as a new model of international relations and further contribute to the building of a community of shared future for mankind,” Zhao wrote in an article sent to reporters.
“Standing at a new and crucial historical juncture, China and the Philippines are bound to build stronger strategic mutual trust, perform deeper economic cooperation and trade, and nurture closer people-to-people exchanges,” Zhao said.
China, the Philippines and several coastal states have conflicting claims in the South China Sea.
While the settlement of the territorial dispute has not yet been discussed, Manila has decided to compartmentalize its engagement with Beijing, one through the Bilateral Consultative Mechanism where the issues on the West Philippine Sea are discussed, and the other on exploring the aspects of cooperation with China.
Zhao said China and the Philippines’ ties grew stronger in the past two years, with increasing trade and the continuing flow of investment to Manila from Beijing.
In 2017 alone, new investments from China reached $53.84 million representing a year-on-year increase of 67 percent.
“China now stands out as the Philippines’ top trading partner and import origin. And this August, China even became the top export market of the Philippines,” Zhao said.
More than 40 cooperation documents were also signed in the areas of economy, trade, agriculture, fishery, energy, science and technology.
On tourism, Zhao noted the “booming exchanges” between the two nations.
In the first three quarters of 2018, the Philippines received more than 972,000 Chinese tourists, achieving a 34.9 percent year-on-year increase, Zhao said.
He was optimistic the targeted 1.5-million Chinese tourists to the Philippines by the end of 2018 would be reached.
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