‘Sea spat small part of China visit’
Beijing—As indicated by both Filipino and Chinese diplomats, the territorial dispute over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) would only be a small part of the agenda when President Aquino meets with Chinese leaders and businessmen during his four-day state visit.
Mr. Aquino is expected to focus on trade and other forms of cooperation, and make a pitch for up to $60 billion worth of investments in oil and gas explorations, railways, shipbuilding, mining, airlines, among others, during the series of meetings with government and business officials scheduled in Beijing, Shanghai and Xiamen.
Alex Chua, charge d’affaires at the Philippine Embassy here, said it was important for the Philippines to strengthen its ties with China, especially because of current disturbances in traditional Western financial markets. Under these circumstances, economic growth is expected to be sustained by strong emerging economies like China and India.
China, the country’s third biggest trading partner, is now the fifth biggest source of foreign investments worldwide, according to the United Nations World Investment Survey.
Mr. Aquino, with several members of his Cabinet and 270 business leaders in tow, is scheduled to arrive tonight at the Beijing Capital Airport on board a Philippine Airlines special commercial flight PR001. He is expected to stay at the Diaoyutaoi State Guesthouse.
Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo, Transportation Secretary Mar Roxas and presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda are among the Cabinet members expected to join Mr. Aquino on the trip.
The President begins his busy schedule on Wednesday with meetings with several groups of Chinese businessmen in the power sector at the China World Hotel.
Manila said in early August that several Chinese firms, including China’s top offshore oil producer CNOOC, were interested in investing in 15 oil and gas exploration contracts worth at least $7.5 billion.
President Aquino will also meet with Vice Premier Wang Qishan before he delivers the keynote speech at the Philippines-China Economic and Trade Forum.
President Aquino will then be officially welcomed by Chinese President Hu Jintao at the Great Hall of the People. The two leaders will hold bilateral talks and are expected to sign several agreements in the fields of trade, economic and technical cooperation, media, sports, culture and information.
In the evening, Hu will host a state banquet at the Great Hall in honor of President Aquino.
During his stay in Beijing, the President will also meet with the more than 2,000 Filipinos based in the city and nearby areas. He also has scheduled sightseeing stops at the Great Wall of China and the Forbidden City. With reports from Gil Cabacungan, Jerry Esplanada, and Reuters
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