MANILA – A total of 29 agreements signed between the Philippines and China have highlighted the first state visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Manila.
President Rodrigo Duterte and Xi on Tuesday witnessed the exchange of agreements ceremony after the two leaders held an expanded bilateral meeting at the Malacañang Palace.
A memorandum of understanding (MOU) on cooperation on oil and gas development in the West Philippine Sea topped the list of signed bilateral documents in the fields of trade and investment, banking and finance, infrastructure, agriculture, education, culture and people-to-people exchanges.
Other signed deals include: cooperation on the Belt and Road Initiative; executive program of cultural agreement for 2019-2023; basic education cooperation; information and communication technology; strengthening the building of agricultural cooperatives; infrastructure cooperation program; industrial parks development; certificate of emergency humanitarian cash assistance; promoting cooperation in key infrastructure projects in Davao region; and, certificate of humanitarian cash assistance.
Duterte and Xi also witnessed the exchange of the implementation agreement of the feasibility study for Davao City Expressway project; feasibility study for Panay-Guimaras-Negros bridges project; memorandum of on Renminbi clearing arrangement; protocol for phytosanitary requirement for export of fresh young coconuts from the Philippines to China; protocol of sanitary and phytosanitary requirements for export of frozen fruits from the Philippines to China; economic and technical cooperation.
Other agreements and projects also include the MOU on supporting feasibility study of nature projects between Department of Finance and China International Development Cooperation Agency; project of container inspection equipment; Davao River Project; China’s aid bridge and road project in Marawi; MOU on Panda bonds issuance; loan agreement of New Centennial Water Source-Kaliwa Dam project; commercial contract of Safe Philippines Project Phase I; commercial contract for the New Centennial Water Source Kaliwa Dam Project; framework agreement for industrial park in Clark; contract for the project management consultancy of the Philippine National Railway’s Long Haul North-South railway project; letter of no objection to the organization of Reminbi-Philippine Peso foreign exchange trading market; and, certificate to authority to operate for Industrial and Commercial Bank Limited-Manila branch.
In his joint press statement, Duterte said he is pleased with the current positive momentum of the Philippines-China relations.
“It is an opportune time for our countries to celebrate the growing strength of our friendship and cooperation. With President Xi’s visit, we reciprocate the warm welcome and gracious accommodation extended to me and my delegation during my State Visit to China in 2016,” Duterte said.
Meanwhile, Xi said China will continue to do its “modest best” to help and support the Philippines.
“Our support will come in many forms from lending our hand to your counter-narcotics and the counter-terrorism struggle, to helping to repair roads and bridges in Marawi and build new infrastructure there,” Xi said.
“China will import more goods from this country and Philippine coconut and frozen fruits have been approved for export to China,” he added.
The leader of the world’s second largest economy said China will provide another 50 government scholarship grants for Filipino students on an annual basis from 2019 to 2021.
“And we’ll implement arrangements for Filipino teachers of the English language to work in China,” Xi said.
He said China will donate 10,000 tons of rice to help those communities devastated by Typhoon “Ompong” (Mangkhut).
Xi described his expanded bilateral meeting with Duterte as “friendly, in-depth and productive” as they chartered the future course of improved China-Philippines ties.
“The President and I both agreed to elevate our relationship into one of comprehensive, strategic cooperation. This vision charts a clear course for China-Philippines relations and it sends a strong message to the world that our two countries are partners in seeking common development,” Xi said.
The Chinese leader is scheduled to meet former president and now House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Wednesday.
Xi is also set to meet the leaders of the Filipino-Chinese community in the country before flying back to Beijing Wednesday afternoon. (PNA)