Xi sets meetings with top Philippines execs

November 19, 2018
Xi Jinping

CHINA’S President Xi Jinping will hold meetings with top Philippine government officials led by President Rodrigo Duterte and witness the signing of agreements during his two-day  state visit to the Philippines.

Xi will arrive in Manila shortly before Tuesday noon, his last stop in a three-nation tour that has taken him to Papua New Guinea for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit and Brunei, according to the media advisory released by Malacañang yesterday.

On Tuesday afternoon, Xi will lay a wreath at the monument of Dr. Jose Rizal at the Rizal Park in Manila. Rizal traced his roots to the southern Chinese province of Fujian, where Xi once served as governor.

Xi will then proceed to Malacañan Palace for the welcome ceremony, meeting with Duterte and several of his Cabinet officials and the signing ceremony on agreements between the two countries.

The Philippines is expected to sign several agreements with China during Xi’s visit, the Department of Finance said last month.

The agreements cover loan and guarantee accords, economic and technical cooperation, support for the feasibility studies on the Philippines’ infrastructure projects, and promoting cooperation on key projects in Mindanao under the ambitious “Build, Build, Build” program.

An exploration deal on the disputed areas in the South China Sea is also being considered for signing, according to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III on Sunday.

Duterte and Xi will also have a joint press conference, restricted meeting and an exchange of gifts before the state banquet in honor of Xi, who would be the first Chinese head of state in 13 years to conduct a state visit to the Philippines since Hu Jintao in April 2005.

On Wednesday, Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will pay a courtesy call on Xi at a posh hotel in Taguig City.

Xi will then have a photo opportunity with the leaders of the Filipino-Chinese community. He will fly back to Beijing after the event.

In preparation for Xi’s visit, the Manila City government announced the cancellation of classes and work in city government offices.

Work in all Manila courts, including the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals, will also be suspended on Tuesday.

Around 5,500 policemen will be deployed for Xi’s visit and road closures will be implemented by the Manila Police District beginning at 6 a.m. Tuesday in connection with Xi’s activities in the country’s capital.

Xi’s visit comes amid concerns about China’s continued activities in the disputed South China Sea, apparent delays in the release of Chinese loans and investment pledges and after a warning from United States Vice President Mike Pence that China is using “debt diplomacy” in order to expand its influence worldwide.

Still, the Palace said Duterte and the Filipino nation are looking forward to Xi’s state visit.

Xi last visited the Philippines in 2015 when he participated in the APEC summit hosted by then-President Benigno Aquino III, who took to China to court over its excessive claims in the South China Sea.