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Xi: PH-China ties on right trajectory

20181121 Xi Jinping Duterte

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and President Xi Jinping of People’s Republic of China pose for a photo prior to their expanded bilateral meeting at the Malacañan Palace on November 20, 2018. KING RODRIGUEZ/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

Relations between China and the Philippines are now on the “right trajectory,” Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Tuesday at a banquet thrown by President Rodrigo Duterte in Malacañang to honor him during his state visit to Manila.

“After President Duterte took office, our two sides have worked together to remove many obstacles. Our relationship has been turned around and put on the right trajectory,” Xi said.

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The Chinese leader said he and the President agreed to elevate the relationship of their countries to “one of comprehensive strategic cooperation.”

New milestone

“This decision, which will mark a new milestone in our relations, speaks to our shared determination to be good friends and good neighbors. We are truly pleased with this decision,” Xi said.

President Duterte also spoke about the new relationship between the two countries in his remarks.

“President Xi and I are committed to forge a new legacy of friendship and cooperation as we work together in further consolidating ties with our both nations,” he said.

“I am hopeful that through our cooperation, opportunities for greater collaboration will further promote the prosperity and success of our nations, and contribute to lasting peace and stability in the region,” the President said.

29 deals

The Philippines and China signed 29 agreements during Xi’s visit, including development of oil and gas sources in the South China Sea.

Xi returned to China on Wednesday. He was the first Chinese president to visit the Philippines in 13 years.

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Mr. Duterte has enthusiastically embraced Xi, even setting aside a key 2016 ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague that declared without basis China’s claim over almost the entire waterway.

At the same time, Mr. Duterte has declared an end to what he characterized as the Philippines’ submissive relationship with the United States, even calling then US President Barack Obama a “son of a bitch.”

But relations have been warmer since Donald Trump became US president and dropped American criticism of Mr. Duterte’s bloody crackdown on illegal drugs.

Pivot to China

The dispute over the resource-rich South China Sea, a key transit route for billions of dollars in global trade, led to a freeze in Manila-Beijing relations, which thawed with Mr. Duterte’s pivot.

The Prsident visited Beijing in 2016 and received $24 billion in pledged loans and investments.

So far, only $140 million has materialized.

Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno last week attributed the delay to China’s unfamiliarity with the Philippines’ bidding process, but he didn’t hide his wish for things to accelerate. —With a report from AFP

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TAGS: China-Philippines relations, Rodrigo Duterte, Xi Jinping
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