By Mario J. Mallari –
April 29, 2019 12:05 AM
The short three-day swing of President Rodrigo Duterte to Beijing was hailed as one of his most successful foreign visits after clinching a commitment for peace from President Xi Jinping and $12 billion pledge of new investments.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. described the visit as a “raging success.”
“Actually the Belt and Road Forum (visit) is a raging success,” declared Locsin in a social media post.
Locsin was among the Cabinet members who joined President Duterte during the four-day visit to China.
Apart from attending the Second Belt and Road Forum on International Cooperation, Mr. Duterte had bilateral meetings with Xi and Premier Li Keqiang.
Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo noted Duterte’s trip paved the way for the signing of 19 business agreements on investments such as in energy, infrastructure including tourism-related facilities and for the speeding up of internet connectivity, improving agriculture productivity and providing Filipinos with skills training.
“As Mr. Duterte noted, the People’s Republic of China is the largest trading partner and a major source of foreign investments of the Philippines,” Panelo said.
Panelo disclosed the President also met with top Chinese leaders where he affirmed the country’s commitment to friendship and understanding with China.
Area of restraint
“He expressed the country’s readiness to pursue more high-quality and good-impact projects,” Panelo said.
Duterte’s bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping yielded a 1 billion renminbi (over P7 billion) grant to the Philippines,” he added.
Duterte reiterated to Xi his resolve to endeavor to make the West Philippine Sea (WPS) a sea of peace, stability and prosperity.
“He expounded the need for both countries to exercise restraint and caution to avoid actions that could complicate situations,” Panelo said.
Meanwhile, Panelo pointed out that President Duterte also advocated the protection and welfare of migrant workers during the High-Level Meeting Session 1 of the forum.
Duterte pitched for the development assistance based on reciprocal benefits, Panelo added.
In his last day in China, Panelo said. Duterte attended the Leaders’ Roundtable Sessions in the Yanqi Lake International Conference Center where he emphasized the value of the nations, especially in Asia, working together with a shared goal of inclusive and sustainable growth and prosperity.
“He welcomed economic investments that will help our country improve its economic productivity in the area of agriculture as well as in our country’s massive infrastructure development program while ensuring that it will be clean and green,” Panelo said.
Panelo, meanwhile, assured Filipinos that Duterte is chartering an “independent foreign policy to a new height of diplomatic relations with other nations.”
He said this independent policy will be solely based on national security and interest, national development and the aspiration to attain economic progress and a comfortable life.
During the bilateral meeting between Duterte and Xi, the Philippines also bagged a 1-billion renminbi grant from China.
The investment agreements were worth $12.165 billion and could generate 21,000 fresh jobs for Filipinos.
Duterte vowed to prospective foreign investors an enabling environment in the Philippines to help their businesses and investments prosper, highlighting his administration’s anti-corruption campaign.”
Locsin said the Philippines and China also agreed to ensure that the implementation of projects under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) are free from corruption.
“Another agreement is a clean Belt and Road Initiative between China and Philippines anti-corruption bodies to prevent and punish corruption in BRI projects,” Locsin said in a separate post.
Peaceful negotiations remain the sole option for the country in addressing the WPS issue with China, according to former Senate President and Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino senatorial bet Juan Ponce-Enrile.
Enrile cited Republic Act (RA) 9522 or the Philippines Archipelagic Baselines Law as basis in pursuing the country’s claims over the Kalayaan Island Group (KIG) and the Scarborough Shoal in the WPS.
“The KIG or the regime of islands there are under our baseline law. We should negotiate that with China,” Enrile told the Daily Tribune.
“The only capability we have is through negotiations, we must use patience in negotiating with China,” he added.
Enrile, one of the authors of RA 9522, said the Philippine baselines law was provided under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas.
Commitment to laws
“The baseline law not only enabled us to defend, protect and preserve our own national territory but also to signify the Philippines’ strong commitment to adhere to the tenets of the international law of the seas,” Enrile said.
The former Senate President reiterated that close cooperation and enhanced bilateral relations with China is the right path.
Earlier, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said the Philippines will focus on the positive sides of the relationship with China rather than the differences, like the dispute in the WPS.
He, however, stressed the Duterte administration is not remiss in its constitutional duty of protecting the country’s sovereignty and territory.
Source: Tribune “Beijing tour ‘raging success’”
Note: This is Tribune’s report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.