Xi, Duterte sign memorandum on resources


Chinese President Xi Jinping called his visit to long-time USA ally the Philippines a "milestone", as he aimed to boost blossoming ties on the promise of billions of dollars in backing for mega-projects.

Duterte said that China-Philippines ties once touched a low point, but he made a decision to usher in a new chapter after he was elected the President of the Philippines in June 2016.

Beijing claims almost all of the South China Sea while Taiwan, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam also claim parts of it.

Statistics show that trade volume between the two countries in 2017 topped 50 billion USA dollars, making China the Philippines' largest trading partner and source of imports, as well as the fourth largest export market.

Mr Duterte said there was "a deepening trust and confidence" between them and he and Mr Xi had discussed increasing trade and investment, and China's involvement in his signature US$180 billion (S$247 billion) Build, Build, Build infrastructure programme.

US Vice President Mike Pence at the ASEAN Summit in November 2018
US Vice President Mike Pence at the ASEAN Summit in November 2018

The two leaders held a bilateral meeting, charting the course for the future of Philippines-China bilateral relations, had an in-depth exchange of views on regional and global issues of common interest, and reached an important consensus.

As the Philippines pursued closer ties with its Asian neighbors, Japan and China were offering loans and grants worth $9 billion each to partly fund the "Build, Build, Build".

The move is likely to spark strong opposition among Philippine lawmakers, who argued that Duterte risks surrendering the country's claims over disputed territories such as resource-rich Reed Bank, while lies just 90 miles off the country's Palawan Island.

President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping signed a total of 29 deals during Xi's state visit to Manila.

But relations have been warmer since Donald Trump became United States president and dropped American criticism of Duterte´s anti-drug crackdown that has killed thousands.

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While there was support in government for the latter, "that doesn´t mean that every bureaucrat, local politician, and the general public enthusiastically jumps on board", Wyatt said.

ANTONIO CARPIO: China wants to control the South China Sea for economic and military purposes.

The Committee will be co-chaired by both states' foreign ministries with the participation of relevant agencies such as the Department of Energy (DOE).

Beijing claims almost all of the South China Sea, which is one of the hotly contested regions in the world.

The Philippines, not China, should draft an oil and gas exploration agreement, Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said on Wednesday.

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"What he is saying is, we have to exercise self-restraint because any conflict that arises in that region will definitely affect us, as I said earlier, it could be inflaming collateral damage or creating inferno", he said. According to the ambassador, the two countries forged a bilateral consultation mechanism on the South China Sea issue and have met three times successfully.

Justice Carpio says USA cruisers plying the area help the Philippines by telegraphing that these waters can not unilaterally be restricted.

Both leaders from China and the Philippines have reiterated that the two countries would further enhance alignment of development strategies. They signed a "memorandum of understanding on cooperation on oil and gas development" on Tuesday but officials provided few details.

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