‘Duterte’s march to PH relevance unstoppable’
BEIJING — “The momentum of President Duterte’s ‘Long March’ for our country’s relevance on the international stage is unstoppable.”
This was according to Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar as he drew parallels between the chief executive’s efforts to enforce his vision for the Philippines with the fabled “Long March” of Chinese communist rebels in 1934 — a yearlong, 9,000-kilometer military retreat from pursuing Kuomintang forces that allowed Mao Zedong to solidify his stature, and eventually turn the tide to defeat US-backed Gen. Chiang Kai-shek and found the People’s Republic of China.
“This trip to China will only reinforce the ‘Duterte momentum’,” Andanar said, citing the gains from President’s recent trips to Laos, Indonesia, Vietnam and Brunei.
On Thursday (Oct. 19), Mr. Duterte begins a historic state visit to the world’s second largest economy which, for many years, was treated by the Philippine government as an adversary over overlapping claims to potentially energy-rich reefs and islets in the West Philippine Sea, known internationally as the South China Sea.
The President will be welcomed by Chinese President Xi Jinping at the East Plaza of the Great Hall of the People, which stands on the western edge of Beijing’s sprawling Tiananmen Square. The national anthems of the Philippines and China will be played, after which both leaders will review the honor guards and the military band.
As is customary for Chinese state visitors, Mr. Xi will escort Mr. Duterte past a throng of flower-waving children in traditional garb before returning to the dais to mark the end of the pomp and circumstance that China’s official government welcomes are known for.
Both leaders will then retire to the South Chamber of the East Hall with their most senior officials for a restricted tete-a-tete expected to last for 45 minutes. Mr. Duterte will be joined in this meeting by Foreign
Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr., Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez.
This will be followed by a 30-minute expanded bilateral meeting in the main East Hall where they will be joined by the Secretaries of agriculture, public works, interior and local governments, tourism, transportation, economic planning, presidential communications and the national security adviser, among others.
The party will then move to the Heibei Room, where both leaders will witness the signing of eight government-to-government deals by their respective Cabinet men (see Doris Dumlao’s story on this).
At 12:30 p.m., the delegation will transfer to the famous Quanjude Roast Duck Restaurant at its nearby Hepingmen branch. The President and his party will then take a short post-lunch break before returning at 3 p.m. to the Great Hall of the People to meet with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang with a group of 38 Filipino officials that will include two senators, three congressmen, two provincial governors, two special envoys and a host of other advisers and agency heads.
The President will then deliver the keynote address at the Philippine-China trade and Investment Forum where the list of Filipino officials grows to 51, plus a still undetermined number of businessmen.
He will then meet with Chairman Zhang Dejiang of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, which is China’s highest lawmaking body, before heading back to Beijing’s Grand Hyatt Hotel for the state banquet.
This state banquet, so far, has 75 officials, tycoons and high ranking business officials, apart from as much as 93 more members of the business delegation. This is scheduled to end by 8:35 p.m, but Mr. Duterte’s day will not be over yet.
He will then proceed to the nearby Beijing Hotel where he will, at 9 p.m., have a meet and greet session at the ballroom with members of the 400-strong Philippine-China business delegation. Organizers are planning to have the President move from table to table to interact with businessmen and have pictures taken with them.
Only at 10:30 p.m. does the President end his hectic first day in Beijing. SFM