The Palace on Monday said it hopes to forge a better cooperation, a more powerful alliance, and closer bonds with China as the Duterte administration rolls out the red carpet for the two-day state visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping.
READ: Philippine, China working on state visit of Xi Jinping to Manila
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said Xi’s visit to the country will be a turning point in the history of both countries.
“This would be his first state visit to the Philippines, and the first of its kind by a Chinese leader since 2005, reciprocating the state visit made earlier by our Chief Executive,” Panelo said in a statement Monday.
Panelo said the two-day visit by the Chinese official will mark an opportunity to further strengthen and sustain bilateral relations.
The Palace official also praised China’s “continued efforts to promote peace and stability” in the Southeast Asia region—even after the Chinese Foreign Ministry announced the installation of three weather stations in disputed territory in the South China Sea.
“We laud President Xi for China’s continued efforts to promote peace and stability in our region, through dialogues and consultations in handling the South China Sea issue, as we share his aspiration to bring our nations’ relationship to a higher level of collaboration,” Panelo said.
“Indeed, amity solves international disputes and even forges a more powerful alliance between both countries against threats to security, including terrorism, violent extremism, criminality, and the drug menace,” he added.
Panelo then said that with the President’s cautious, pragmatic, and diplomatic yet independent foreign policy, the Duterte administration anticipates more opportunities to forge better cooperation and friendship with China.
This was after the Chief Executive openly admitted during the 33rd ASEAN Summit that China is already in “possession” of the disputed South China Sea.
China, the country’s top trading partner, has become a leading export market for the country, and its largest source of foreign tourists.
“We consider our country’s long-lasting friendship with China and the presence of Chinese and Chinese-Filipinos in the country as integral parts of our own growth and progress,” he said.
Xi’s two-day visit to the country will have a tight schedule.
The state visit includes the usual welcoming ceremony, a state banquet, a number of agreements to be signed, and meetings with the country’s top officials.
Xi, however, will not travel to Mindanao to visit Duterte’s hometown in Davao as he will stay at Shangri-La Hotel in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig for two days while in Manila.
On Tuesday, Xi will arrive at Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1. After that, he will proceed with the wreath-laying ceremony at Rizal Park.
He will also attend the official welcome ceremony in the Palace. On Tuesday afternoon, Duterte and his Cabinet members will have an expanded bilateral meeting with Xi and his officials.
They are also expected to sign and exchange certain agreements and deliver joint press statements at the Palace.
After that, the two high-ranking officials will have a restricted meeting and an exchange of gifts, followed by a state banquet with toast remarks.
On his last day in Manila, Xi will meet with House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Senate President Vicente Sotto III at the Shangri-La Hotel.
Xi will then have a photo opportunity with leaders of the Filipino-Chinese community then depart Manila for China from NAIA Terminal 1.
Saying that China was poised to become the largest economy in the world, Arroyo said it was essential that the Philippines be friends with China. Arroyo made the remarks at a keynote speech at the Boao Forum for Asia Youth Summit 2018 held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center.
Reps. Luis Raymund Villafuerte of Camarines Sur, Raneo Abu of Batangas, Johnny Pimentel of Surigao del Sur and Rodolfo Albano III of Isabela said they look forward to the long-term cooperation plan between China and the Philippines.
Villafuerte said the Philippines has already gained a head start in promoting deeper economic integration with China with President Duterte’s move to rebalance the country’s foreign policy towards Asia.
Albano said the visit would be good for the country as it paves the way for stronger bilateral relations, which will result in more trade and scientific and cultural exchanges.
Opposition senators, on the other hand, filed a resolution seeking transparency in the oil and gas agreement and other deals regarding Philippine national resources that the two presidents will sign during Xi’s visit.
At least 10 financing agreements are expected to be signed during Xi’s state visit, including deals on the Manila to Bicol Railway Project and the Mindanao Railway Project.
“We filed a resolution demanding for transparency on what will be signed tomorrow or the next day. We will call a Senate investigation along those lines,” said Senator Antonio Trillanes IV.
He said they would call for the Senate committee on energy to look into the memorandums of understanding or agreement that will be signed.
In particular, Trillanes and Senator Francis Pangilinan said a joint exploration agreement in the disputed West Philippine Sea would violate the Constitution.
Also on Monday, the Supreme Court ordered the suspension of work in all courts in Manila City on Tuesday in time for Xi’s state visit.
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