Philippines, China ink 14 agreements
The Philippines and China signed on Wednesday 14 cooperation agreements for infrastructure, including rail, bridges, irrigation, and on defense.
President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang witnessed the signing ceremonies held in Malacanang.
Keqiang, who attended the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit and Related Summits extended his stay for an official visit, the first for a Chinese premier in 10 years.
"I am pleased to note the positive turnaround and vigorous momentum of Philippines-China relations. Mutual trust and confidence-building have led to increased interaction on many levels of our two governments," Duterte told Li.
"Practical cooperation in many areas is bringing in an early harvest of tangible benefits. Altogether, these concerted efforts of the Philippines and China have secured peace, stability, and development in the region," he said.
Li said the two countries are now trying to make up for the lost opportunities in the past.
"Now, China-Philippines cooperation is based on major support and on major benefit," he said.
"We are now working together to strengthen the momentum of China-Philippines relations and try to make up for the time or the good opportunities we missed in the past," Li stressed.
The relationship between the Philippines and China had been strained in the past, particularly under the Aquino administration, which brought up the territorial dispute with Beijing before the United Nations arbitral tribunal.
The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration made the award to the Philippines, declaring as invalid China's sovereign and historic claim in almost the entire South China Sea.
Aside from China and the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan have overlapping claims in the disputed waters.
Among the agreements signed between the two countries were memorandum of understanding (MOU) on jointly promoting on second basket of key infrastructure projects cooperation; exchange of letters on project of dangerous drugs abuse treatment and rehabilitation centers; exchange of letters on project of two bridges across Pasig River; and MOU for cooperation on industrial parks development.
Also inked were the MOU on jointly promoting the Philippine National Railways south long hall project cooperation; implementation framework for the memorandum of and development of project list for cooperation in production capacity and investment; MOU concerning the provision of goods for addressing climate change; MOU on defense industry cooperation; MOU in the field of intellectual property; MOU between the National Youth Commission and the All-China Youth Federation on strengthening youth cooperation; and financing cooperation agreement on Chico River pump irrigation project and New Centennial Water Source-Kaliwa Dam project.
They also signed the Republic of the Philippines 2017 renminbi bond issuance underwriting agreement and MOU between the Bases Conversion and Development Authority and China Development Bank. Celerina Monte/DMS