Xi vows to provide 1 billion yuan grant to PH amid Chinese presence in Pag-asa Island
Chinese President Xi Jinping has committed to extend one billion yuan (approximately US$148 million) grant aid to the Philippines, Malacañang said on Thursday.
Xi made a fresh commitment during his bilateral meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte at the sidelines of the Belt and Road Initiative forum in Beijing amid Chinese increased presence in the disputed South China Sea, including near Pag-asa Island in Palawan province.
In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, who is accompanying Duterte in China, said Xi manifested that Beijing would provide more resources to Luzon and Mindanao to spur regional economic growth, as well as promote Clark Green City through the building of an industrial park.
"According to him, the BRI will also play an important role in the ASEAN-China relations, where the Philippines plays an effective role as a country coordinator, and in the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) through increased cooperation," he said.
"Aside from his country's commitments in relation to the BRI, the Chinese President also mentioned that the first group of Filipino teachers may soon start teaching English in China. He also committed to continue donating rice and fingerlings and importing our local fruits," he said.
"Lastly, President Xi committed to provide One Billion Yuan grant to the Philippines," Panelo added.
In the same bilateral meeting, Panelo said Duterte raised the issue of the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), particularly the situation in Pag-asa Island.
"Both agree that the situation can be managed by the mechanism of bilateral negotiations but it should not affect the cooperation being undertaken by both the Philippines and China and they look forward to a productive discussion on matters of mutual concern and interests," he said.
The Philippine military earlier confirmed the presence of over 200 Chinese ships near Pag-asa Island, which is part of Kalayaan municipality of Palawan.
Chinese militiamen were on board the ships, military's Western Command said.
Panelo said Xi expounded on the importance of "good neighborliness and proper handling of differences" between Manila and Beijing.
He noted that the Chinese leader acknowledged it is "inevitable" to have "challenges" on the bilateral relations of the two country.
But according to Panelo, XI has placed importance on the "mutual trust," existing between the two nations in order to resolve those challenges.
"The Chief Executive culminated the talk with the Chinese President articulating his position that the Philippines remains China’s ally in Southeast Asia. The former emphasized that both countries are allies, and allies strengthen?and do not destroy ? each other," he said. Celerina Monte/DMS