Duterte off to China for fourth time
President Rodrigo Duterte left on Wednesday afternoon for China to join other world leaders in the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation.
This is his fourth time to visit China since he assumed office in 2016.
Duterte and some members of his delegation boarded a private plane, which took off from Villamor Air Base at 3:35pm.
He did not deliver a departure speech.
Duterte arrived at Beijing International Airport at 7;40 pm. His receiving party was led by Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua and Philippine Ambassador to China Jose Santiago Sta, Romana.
In a statement, Malacañang said Duterte's attendance in the Forum from April 25 to 27 reaffirms the Philippines’ commitment to work with partners in the region to further enhance regional connectivity and economic integration in order to advance the country’s development agenda and sustain regional growth and development.
"The Forum is an opportunity for the Philippines to explore synergies on connectivity initiatives. This includes projects under the BRI, and the country’s Build, Build, Build and other development programs," it said.
Duterte is set to hold separate bilateral meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang on Thursday to discuss "key developments in bilateral relations and regional affairs," it added.
An official of the Department of Foreign Affairs earlier said he was not sure if Duterte would raise with the Chinese leaders the presence of Chinese vessels near the Philippine-claimed Pag-asa Island in Palawan province during his meetings with them.
The Philippines and China are engaged in a territorial dispute in the South China Sea. Despite that, Duterte has taken a softer and friendlier stance with Beijing.
Duterte will depart Beijing for Davao City on Saturday night. Celerina Monte/DMS