Duterte pledges to cooperate with China in regional development
President Rodrigo Duterte vowed on Sunday (Manila time) to cooperate with China in leading the way for economic development in Asia during his bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
“I have given you my word, we will cooperate with you and I said, with my thrust of an independent foreign policy, we will find ourselves mutually agreeing in so many things,” Duterte told Xi at the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders' Meeting in Lima, Peru.
He also thanked the Chinese president for the warm hospitality extended to the Philippine delegation during his state visit to Beijing last October 18 to 21 that produced a lot of good will.
“It was a successful visit, which opened a new chapter in the Philippine-China relations and signified our agencies to fast-track mutually beneficial areas of cooperation,” he said.
"Though it was a short visit, it has produced a lot of goodwill in my country and we hope to remain a good friend of China."
Duterte again invited Xi to visit the Philippines at a mutually agreeable date.
Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. said the two leaders also touched on the plight of Filipino fishermen in Scarborough Shoal.
He said Xi assured that Filipino fishermen will continue to have free access in the traditional fishing grounds apart from offering them training such as fish culture to sustain their livelihood.
“The Chinese has offered our fishermen opportunities for them to develop and train, to make sure that their livelihood as fishermen will be strongly supported and they will be even able to engage themselves in the culturing of fishes that will sustain their families and their livelihood," Yasay said.
After the April 2012 standoff between Philippine and Chinese vessels in Scarborough Shoal, it was only after Duterte's trip to China that Chinese coast guard did not bar Filipinos from fishing in the disputed area.
China has been claiming almost the entire South China Sea, including Scarborough Shoal even if it is within the 200 nautical miles exclusive economic zone of the Philippines.
The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration, in its July decision following the Philippine petition, declared that Scarborough Shoal is a traditional fishing ground for both the Filipino and Chinese fishermen.
Yasay said issues on territorial claims would be set aside in the meantime.
“We also had made sure that any actions that would be taken by us precisely to just simply promote our interest with the area of jurisdiction, territorial ownership and sovereignty will be set aside in the meantime,” he said.
Both leaders also discussed about agricultural sector, the beefing up of China’s imports of agricultural products, and the lifting of the travel ban of Chinese tourists to the Philippines.
Xi also invited Duterte to participate in the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) Conference next year to be held in China. Ella Dionisio/DMS