THE Philippines and China yesterday signed agreements on promoting investment cooperation and drug rehabilitation efforts as the two countries affirmed robust ties amid tensions in the disputed South China Sea.
President Rodrigo Duterte witnessed with China’s President Xi Jinping in Beijing the following:
Exchange of letters on production capacity and investment cooperation between the Philippines and China Hand-over of certificate on grant-aid for the dangerous drugs abuse treatment and rehabilitation centers project between the government of the Republic of the Philippines and the government of the People’s Republic of China
Duterte is in China to attend the second Belt and Road forum which Malacañang views an opportunity for the Philippines to explore synergies on connectivity initiatives, including projects under the Belt and Road Initiative and Manila’s ambitious “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program.
Xi’s Belt and Road Initiative, unveiled in 2013, aims to bolster a sprawling network of land and sea links with Southeast Asia, Central Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa.
“The forum provides another opportunity to renew and reaffirm our valued relations based on mutual trust, respect, and friendship and must continue to grow strength and meaning in the coming years,” Duterte said in his opening statement during the bilateral meeting.
He congratulated China on its 70th founding anniversary and said Xi’s state visit to Manila in November last year was a “watershed moment” in the Philippines-China ties.
It was during Xi’s Manila visit where the Philippines and China agreed to elevate the relationship into one of “comprehensive, strategic cooperation.”
“The decision to elevate bilateral ties to a comprehensive, strategic cooperation affirms the Philippines and China’s strong desire to further deepen and broaden this engagement,” Duterte said.
The President added the Philippines and China “must continue to work together to explore new areas of cooperation and partnership.”
It was not immediately clear whether the maritime row was discussed in the bilateral meeting. Duterte is one of the several world leaders Xi was slated to meet ahead of the opening of the key infrastructure forum on Friday.