China and Philippines agree on maritime cooperation; transport, infrastructure pacts also signed on Duterte visit

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping shake hands as they attend a welcoming ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China on Oct 20, 2016.
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping shake hands as they attend a welcoming ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China on Oct 20, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS
Children hold national flags of China and the Philippines.
Children hold national flags of China and the Philippines. PHOTO: AFP
Chinese President Xi Jinping gestures to Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte as they review honour guards during a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China on Oct 20, 2016.
Chinese President Xi Jinping gestures to Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte as they review honour guards during a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China on Oct 20, 2016. PHOTO: EPA
Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte arriving in Beijing, China on Oct 19, 2016.
Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte arriving in Beijing, China on Oct 19, 2016. PHOTO: EPA

BEIJING - China and Philippines agreed to set up a joint coastal guard committee on maritime cooperation among 13 agreements sealed on Thursday (Oct 20).

The other pacts signed include cooperation on transport, infrastructure, agriculture, tourism, financing, and drugs-busting.

China will also lift the tourism advisory against travelling to the Philippines and allow more imports of tropical fruits, including mangoes. 

The deals were announced on day three of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's state visit to China.

"Though we come to your country close to winter but it's the springtime of our relationship," Mr Duterte told his Chinese counterpart President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People.

The two leaders had a 30-minute one-on-one meeting in the morning, and another separate meeting joined by senior officials on both sides.

Earlier, Mr Duterte was welcomed with full military honours in a 15-minute ceremony on his arrival at the Great Hall.

China is the first country outside South-east Asia that the 71-year-old leader is visiting since he came to power in June.

 
 

Mr Duterte, whose tirades have strained ties with traditional ally the United Sates, has repeatedly expressed his desire to build goodwill and friendship with Beijing in a bid for more trade, investments and loans.

Both sides have said that this will be a "historic" visit as it is the first meeting between the heads of state in five years.

Bilateral ties have been frosty in recent years, especially after the Philippines, under Mr Duterte’s predecessor, filed the arbitration case against China in 2013 over territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

In July this year, an arbitral tribunal at The Hague ruled in favour of Manila. China has refused to accept the ruling while Mr Duterte has chosen to downplay it, as he embarks on a pivot towards China and Russia, away from the US.

Mr Duterte met Chinese premier Li Keqiang and top legislator Zhang Dejiang Thursday afternoon, followed by a business forum, also at the Great Hall of the People. Vice-premier Zhang Gaoli attended the meeting.

On Thursday night, Mr Xi will host Mr Duterte to a state banquet at the same venue.

Mr Duterte will leave tomorrow after another business meeting at the Bank of China in the morning.

kohping@sph.com.sg