Duterte makes third visit to China
DAVAO CITY — President Rodrigo Duterte leaves for his third visit to China on Monday, this time to attend the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) in Hainan province, considered the Chinese gateway to the West Philippine Sea.
The President will be departing from Davao International Airport with several officials in tow, including members of his Cabinet and three lawmakers facing graft charges at the Sandiganbayan.
The trip of Davao del Norte Rep. Antonio Floirendo Jr., Bohol Rep. Arthur Yap and Camarines Sur Rep. LRay Villafuerte — who were all indicted for graft — had court clearance.
The President is scheduled to address the opening of the forum, which would gather such leaders as Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen, Mongolian Prime Minister Khurelsukh Ukhnaa, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
UN Secretary General António Guterres and International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde will also be there.
Foreign Undersecretary for International Economic Relations Manuel Teehankee said the Boao Forum, which was first conceptualized in 1998 by then President Fidel Ramos, Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke and Japanese Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa, was aimed at “discuss[ing] cooperation, innovations and solutions toward a more open and prosperous Asia.”
He said “addressing the BFA plenary is a singular privilege for the Philippines and a privilege for acknowledging the President’s role and leadership in Asia and the Asean region.”
The President will hold a bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday “to discuss ways to further enhance the bilateral relationship between the Philippines and China,” according to Teehankee.
The areas of discussion, he said, include violent extremism and cross-border illegal drug trafficking.
The President will also witness the signing of business agreements, as well as agreements between the governments of the Philippines and China.
He will join a lunch banquet hosted by Xi and his wife, Peng Liyuan.
Later, he will join Xi in a dinner at Boao State Guesthouse before departing for Hong Kong to meet with the Filipino community.
The President is expected to return to Manila on April 12. —Allan Nawal and Leila B. Salaverria
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