BEIJING — The flourishing China-Philippines relationship is expected to bear more fruits in the future following a productive visit of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in Manila last week.
“We are convinced that this (Li’s visit) will further promote our cooperation in various areas in the future,” Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Lu Kang said in a recent regular press conference here.
Li, the first Chinese Premier to visit the Philippines in a decade, held a bilateral meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte on the sidelines of the 31st ASEAN Summit and other related meetings.
The two leaders wrapped up their productive bilateral meeting by witnessing the formal signing of 14 cooperation documents in the fields of infrastructure, economic, trade and investment, production capacity cooperation, and intellectual property.
“The Philippines is China’s friendly neighbor and important partner, and the Chinese side always attaches great importance to its relations with the Philippines,” Lu said.
Since President Duterte’s first visit to China in October last year, China-Philippines relations have made a big turnaround, boosting the two countries’ trades and investment prospects, as well as people-to-people exchanges.
The revived China-Philippines ties have also led to the holding of the first Bilateral Consultative Mechanism on the South China Sea last August in Guiyang, China.
In a joint statement issued after the bilateral talks, China and the Philippines have agreed to continue to actively advance consultations and negotiations on a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea and ensure full and effective implementation of the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) in its entirety.
“Both sides affirm that contentious maritime issues are not the sum total of the China-Philippines bilateral relationship,” the joint statement said.
The two countries had reaffirmed the importance of maintaining and promoting regional peace and stability, freedom of navigation in and over-flight above the South China Sea.
China and the Philippines have agreed to enhance cooperation in defense and law enforcement, particularly the anti-terrorism campaign and drug-related crimes.
In the field of trade and business, both sides have agreed to implement the Six-Year Development Program for Trade and Economic Cooperation (2017-2022), and jointly formulate and implement a program on the China-Philippines Industrial Park Development.
Both sides also agreed to the potential of the Belt and Road Initiative as a grand platform for policy coordination, connectivity of facilities, unimpeded trade, financial integration and strengthened people-to-people ties.
The implementation of the first batch of major projects, such as the New Centennial Water Source-Kaliwa Dam Project, Chico River Pump Irrigation Project, Philippine National Railways South Long Haul Project, and Binondo-Intramuros and Estrella-Pantaleon bridges will be hastened in accordance with the related exchange of letters and agreements signed during Li’s visit.
Both countries have agreed to identify the second batch of priority cooperation projects, vowing to be transparent and laws compliant to assure smooth implementation of the projects.
More direct flights between the two countries are also being eyed to boost two-way tourism. The Philippines is hoping to reach one million Chinese tourist arrivals this year.
During the bilateral meeting, Li commended the Philippines for the successful hosting of the ASEAN Summit and related meetings, including the 20th China-ASEAN Leaders’ Meeting. (PNA)