PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte yesterday left Manila to attend the Second Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, his fourth trip to China since he assumed the presidency in 2016.
Duterte flew from Villamor Airbase in Pasay City at 3:41 p.m.
The President first attended the forum in May 2107 as Manila warmed up ties with Beijing after the two countries’ relations were strained during the previous administration over the West Philippine Sea issue.
During his April 25 to 27 visit, the President will have a bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang.
He is also expected to witness the signing of five bilateral agreements between the Philippines and China in the field of education, anti-corruption, official development assistance, and drug rehabilitation among others.
Duterte’s visit to China came as his administration files a protest against Chinese incursion, including the swarming of Chinese militia vessels near Philippine-occupied Pag-asa Island.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the President would most likely raise the sea dispute issue during his bilateral meeting with Xi.
The Philippines sealed a historic win against China before the United Nations-backed arbitral tribunal in The Hague in July 2016, which invalidated Beijing’s sweeping claims to almost all of the South China Sea.
China, however, has refused to recognize the ruling.