(L-R) Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping | Photo via RTVM
MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte is confident that bilateral cooperation between the Philippines and China is stronger and deeper with the two-day visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping.
The President admits, however, that the two countries’ diplomatic ties have been affected by the Philippines’ dependency on the United States’ economic and political policies.
President Duterte said Xi’s visit is proof that both leaders have “restored the normalcy” that the Philippines used to have or have had with China.
“We agreed on a renewed bilateral relationship, signed some trade and commerce and for the first time China was buying everything from us. This relation plus of course the commitment of China to help in the industrialization of my country,” Duterte said.
He vows to do his part in maintaining the Philippines’ good relationship with China by strengthening people to people exchange and strengthening friendship.
“One is people to people actually. I’m sure China is very lenient in issuing visas for Filipinos intending to go [to China]. Second is that China is planning to hire Filipinos to work there. China has gone by leaps and bounds and at one time your demographic experts say that we need some land here but some factories, but we do not have enough manpower or expertise. And it has sounded off a plan to employ Filipinos that would greatly enhance our friendship, people to people, our national interest now,” he said.
Some experts agree that Xi’s visit indeed will bring positive results beneficial to the Filipino people.
“The Belt and Road is not the only initiative driving Chinese economic capital in the Philippines. It can be the Duterte-China relations. It could be the interest of Chinese firms to invest in the Philippines,” explained Alvin Camba, a Pre-Doctoral Fellow from the Global Development Policy Center.
“To elevate such bilateral relations, I think we should expect the materialization of some of the MOU’s and agreements that have been signed between the two countries,” said political analyst Li Meiting.
The two countries’ diplomatic ties turned cold when China began its activities in the disputed territory in the West Philippine Sea.
The atmosphere improved when Rodrigo Duterte became the President of the Philippine Republic. Just months after his election, President Duterte visited Beijing and returned home with billion of dollars-worth of investments and development aid. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Victor Cosare)