MANILA � A number of agreements are expected to be signed during the eighth bilateral meeting between President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing on August 29, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) announced on Friday.
DFA Foreign Assistant Secretary Menardo Montealegre said the two leaders would discuss accomplishments, as well as the shared goals under the comprehensive strategic cooperation between the Philippines and China.
President Duterte looks forward to exchanging views with President Xi on how to accelerate the pace of our functional cooperation in terms of concrete projects, as well as on issues of mutual interest to both countries, Montealegre said in a Palace pre-departure press briefing.
Montealegre said both leaders will witness the signing of a number of cooperative bilateral documents and memorandum of understanding, which are all aimed to further increase the breadth and depth of the cooperation between the two countries.
He said specific deals are being finalized but several agreements in the pipeline are in the field of education, science and technology, and economic and social development.
Montealegre, meanwhile, said Duterte has the prerogative to raise other issues, including the arbitral ruling that he had previously mentioned he would raise with his Chinese counterpart during his fifth visit to China on August 28 to September 1.
We cannot preempt what the President will discuss in particular regarding the arbitral ruling. So, it will be his call during the meeting of the President with his (Chinese) counterpart, he said.
Chief of Presidential Protocol and Presidential Assistant on Foreign Affairs Robert Borje agreed, adding, We cannot assume. When it happens, it happens.
Nevertheless, Borje described the trip as an opportunity to discuss issue(s) covering the whole bilateral relations between the Philippines and China.
Just to put things into context, he added.
To cheer for Gilas Pilipinas
After his Beijing events, Duterte will proceed to Guangdong to cheer for Gilas Pilipinas against Italy in the FIBA World Cup 2019 on August 31.
Borje said Xi has directed Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan to accompany Duterte to the prestigious basketball tournament at the International Sports and Cultural Arena in Foshan City.
Asked whether Duterte will meet the Filipino players, Borje said, That's something that we're working on but what's definite is the President, of course, wants to support Team Philippines."
Duterte is also scheduled to have a separate meeting with Wang and Guangdong officials on August 31.
The President and Vice President Wang are expected to discuss ways to strengthen cooperation in anti-corruption efforts, increase trade and investment, and deepen friendship between our countrymen and the people of Guangdong, Montealegre said.
Meanwhile, Duterte's schedule to lead the inauguration of a building at the Fujian National University that was built in honor of Duterte's late mother, Soledad, has been postponed at an appropriate time.
It was a decision that was made mutually, Borje said.
After his first visit to Beijing in October 2016, Duterte said he will temporarily shelve the arbitral ruling to allow both countries to settle the overlapping claims between the Philippines and China in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) through a peaceful and diplomatic approach.
The Filipino leader, however, said he will raise the issue before his six-year term ends in 2022.
In July 2016, the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) released its decision, nullifying China's nine-dash line map that covers nearly the entire WPS or South China Sea and overlaps with the exclusive economic zone claims of other countries, among them the Philippines.
China has repeatedly rejected the verdict, which the PCA based on an arbitration case filed by the Philippines in 2013.
Duterte will return on Sept. 1 from the visit to China at the invitation of Xi. (PNA)
Source: Philippines News Agency