1st LD: China, Philippines chart course for future relations in joint statement

1st LD: China, Philippines chart course for future relations in joint statement

1st LD: China, Philippines chart course for future relations in joint statement

President Duterte is expected to embark on another visit to China in April 2019 amid the revitalized bilateral friendship and cooperation between the two countries.

"Palace Com doesn't care if it is a Chinese draft?"

Twenty-nine deals were signed late Tuesday as President Rodrigo Duterte hosted Xi in Manila, including a memorandum of understanding on cooperation on oil and gas development.

Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo meets up Wednesday with visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping where the former lauded China and recalled her presidency, which saw Manila forge closer ties with Beijing. In the joint statement issued after Xi's visit, China and the Philippines "reaffirmed that contentious issues are not the sum total of China-Philippines bilateral relations and should not exclude mutually beneficial cooperation in other fields".

Many Filipinos resent Beijing's claim over most of the South China Sea, which an worldwide tribunal ruled in 2016 was without basis.

Asked about that survey, presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said Duterte's strategy was to avoid a conflict while reaping the rewards of improved business.

Xi said the Chinese government is also "looking forward" to accommodate more Filipino English teachers in China. "In the same manner that if we draft it, it will have to pass through them, too".

But Senator Risa Hontiveros referred to an alleged draft of the agreement that was purportedly leaked to the media.

They have preliminarily agreed to cooperate on oil and gas exploration, a move that is likely to anger many Filipinos wary of Chinese territorial expansionism in the region.

The two leaders yesterday oversaw 29 agreements of sorts, many of them broad or vague, from cooperating in education, culture and industrial park development to jointly promoting infrastructure, agriculture cooperatives and establishing sanitation protocols for shipping coconuts.

"Upon the conclusion of my successful state visit to the Republic of the Philippines, I wish to extend my heartfelt thanks to you, Mr. President, and the Government and people of the Philippines for your friendship and warm hospitality", Xi said in a statement released by the Chinese Embassy in Manila Thursday night.

Among Xi's commitment was the setting up of a "maritime mechanism" which would supposedly be the liaison between the Philippine government and the Chinese government, particularly in accessing the West Philippines Sea.

Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) secretary Teodoro Locsin Jnr on Twitter suggested no deal was imminent, but he also added that any agreement could be signed with the Department of Energy and Department of Justice.

He said he will personally hand over the documents to lawmakers.

He said China and the Philippines are ready to open a new page in bilateral relations.

Chinese tourists travelling to the Philippines nearly tripled in less than three years, from 490,000 in 2015 and expected to reach 1.5 million in 2018, making China the Philippines' second largest source of tourists.

Opposition senators demanded that Duterte reveal more details about the plans, warning that the deal could affirm Chinese sovereignty in an area where both the Philippines and China stake claims.

At ASEAN, Duterte had called on the U.S.to stop military drills near disputed areas, saying China is already "in possession" of it. Pence last week said the US supports a "free and open" Indo-Pacific and "will continue to sail and fly wherever worldwide law allows and our national interests demand".

Sotto said he hadn't seen what was signed "but probably it doesn't [include the 60-40 arrangement] yet, because it's just a MOU".

Also on Wednesday, Bayan Muna chair Neri Colmenares filed in the Supreme Court an urgent motion to resolve his group's petition to nullify the 2005 joint exploration agreement between the Philippines, China and Vietnam.

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