Duterte’s China trip to focus on economy

By Chen Heying Source:Global Times Published: 2016/10/17 23:58:39

Military drills with China, Russia likely in the future: Philippine president

Focusing on his country's economic growth has brought Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte diplomatically closer to China despite maritime disputes, observers said ahead of his first state visit to China.

"This is the first state visit of a Philippine president to Beijing since 2011 and signals a key turning point in both our histories. We look forward to renewing ties between the Philippines and China and to reaffirm our commitment to work closer to achieve shared goals for our countries and peoples," Duterte said in his departure speech, the Philippine Star newspaper reported Monday.

Duterte will visit China from October 18 to 21 at the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping. The trip will be Duterte's first official visit to a foreign country outside the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

"As improving his people's lives is paramount in his bid to boost economic growth, Duterte has chosen to draw closer to China in terms of economic collaboration," Liu Feng, an expert on South China Sea studies, told the Global Times.

Echoing Liu, Chen Xiangmiao, a research fellow at the National Institute for the South China Sea Studies, told the Global Times that with the urgent need to "consolidate power," this visit will focus on economic and trade cooperation with China as well as infrastructure development.

The China-proposed Belt and Road initiative and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank can provide funds and technology to build roads and railway in the Philippines, Liu said.

Duterte will discuss economic, business and investment agreements with China, Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Charles Jose was quoted by the Philippine Star as saying on Friday.

China supports Duterte's efforts to lead the Filipino people to develop their economy and is ready to participate in the country's economic and social development, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said on Thursday.

Meantime, Duterte said he would also discuss the possible purchase of arms from China, adding that Manila would stop military exercises with the US during his presidency, Phoenix TV reported on Monday. Military drills with China and Russia are likely in the future, he said.

"His attempt to seek military cooperation with China resulted from US aggressiveness, which drowned out the Philippines' voice," Liu noted.

Only when the above-mentioned collaboration increases mutual trust, can maritime disputes between China and the Philippines in the South China Sea be negotiated, Chen said.

"It is better to talk than go to war. We want to talk about friendship ... we want to talk about business. War would lead us nowhere," Duterte told Xinhua.

Chen said certain disputed islands could be included in a deal in which China would provide marine technology and funds for Filipino fishermen, a feasible way to offset their economic losses.

Newspaper headline: Duterte’s trip to focus on economy


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