By Minde Nyl R. dela Cruz
THE PHILIPPINES and China held bilateral talks on Wednesday, Nov. 15, and signed 14 agreements during what President Rodrigo R. Duterte called a “momentous occasion.”
The talks with China capped a series of bilateral discussions beginning Monday between state partners and member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), whose 31st summit this year the Philippines is hosting.
“Mr. Prime Minister, at this time, because we are not really in parity as yours. But maybe in the years to come, the Filipinos will reciprocate what you have done for us,” Mr. Duterte said as he welcomed Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, who was traveling to the Philippines for the first time in a visit that marked the first by a Chinese premier in a decade.
In their joint press statement, Mr. Duterte noted to Mr. Li the “positive turnaround and vigorous momentum of Philippine-China relations.”
Mr. Duterte further expressed his eagerness to discuss with Mr. Li how they can advance the relation between the two countries and how they “can confront the drug menace that hunts both shores.”
“Mutual trust and confidence building have led to increased interaction on many levels of our two governments. Practical cooperation in many areas is bringing in an early harvest of tangible benefits,” the President said.
He also thanked Beijing for its “valuable support” of the Philippines’ chairmanship of the ASEAN this year, its assistance in the Build, Build, Build infrastructure program of his administration, and its providing military equipment to the Armed Forces of the Philippines and its “looking [out] for the welfare of Filipinos who live and work in China.”
Mr. Li, in turn, congratulated the Philippines for its chairmanship of the ASEAN and noted in not a few variations its “friendship” with China.
“I believe, in spite of some ups and downs in the relations between the two countries, the aspiration shared by the two peoples for taking our friendship forward and embracing even brighter future for themselves has never changed,” he said.
He noted as well “such areas as infrastructure, agriculture and poverty alleviation” where the two countries can further work together.
“My suggestion is that our two sides may sit down together to discuss and formulate cooperation plans in these areas, lasting for the next five or even 10 years to take forward our cooperation in these specific fields, to send out a message to the people of the two countries as well as the international community, that (the) China-Philippine relationship will continuously go forward and the people-to-people friendship between us will be further strengthened.”
The Chinese premier also noted as his final remarks:
“Due to well-known reasons for some period of time, there were much doubts expressed by international media outlets as to whether the friendship between our two countries would be able to — would be able to consolidate and even last.”
“I believe now is the time. It is the time for us to tell our own stories. It is the time for the media from China and the Philippines to report more on the bright prospects of China-Philippine relations and the much told stories of friendship between our two peoples.”
“We welcome more Philippine press to come to China to cover today’s events and make your historic contributions to covering the stories about how our two countries are working together to seize the opportunity of the day and usher in a new chapter in China-Philippine relations.”
“Chinese are open to the Philippine media and press,” Mr. Li said in English, concluding.
Among the accords signed between the two countries are:
• Agreement on Economic and Technical Cooperation between the Government of the Philippines and People’s Republic of China;
• Memorandum of Understanding on Jointly Promoting on Second Basket of Key Infrastructure Projects Cooperation between the Department of Finance of the Republic of the Philippines and the Ministry of Commerce of the Government of the People’s Republic of China;
• Exchange of Letters on Project of Dangerous Drugs Abuse Treatment and Rehabilitation Centers;
• Exchange of Letters on Project of Two Bridges Across Pasig River;
• Memorandum of Understanding for Cooperation on Industrial Parks Development between the Department of Trade and Industry of the Republic of the Philippines and the Ministry of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China;
• Memorandum of Understanding on Jointly Promoting the Philippine National Railways South Long Hall Project Cooperation between the Department of Transportation of the Republic of the Philippines and the Ministry of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China;
• Implementation Framework for the Memorandum of Understanding and Development of Project List for Cooperation in Production Capacity and Investment between the National Economic and Development Authority of the Republic of the Philippines and the National Development and Reform Commission of the People’s Republic of China;
• Memorandum of Understanding between the Department of Environment and Natural Resources of the Republic of the Philippines and the National Development and Reform Commission of the People’s Republic of China Concerning the Provision of Goods for Addressing Climate Change;
• Memorandum of Understanding on Defense Industry Cooperation between the Department of National Defense of the Republic of the Philippines and the State Administration of Science Technology Industry of the National Defense of the People’s Republic of China;
• Memorandum of Understanding between the Intellectual Property Office of the Republic of the Philippines and the State Intellectual Property of the People’s Republic of China on Cooperation in the Field of Intellectual Property;
• Memorandum of Understanding between the National Youth Commission and the All-China Youth Federation on Strengthening Youth Cooperation;
• The Financing Cooperation Agreement on Chico River Pump Irrigation Project and New Centennial Water Source-Kaliwa Dam Project between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines represented by the Department of Finance and the Export-Import Bank of China;
• The Republic of the Philippines 2017 Renminbi Bond Issuance Underwriting Agreement; and
• Memorandum of Understanding between the Bases Conversion and Development Authority and China Development Bank — with AFP