By Camille A. Aguinaldo
CHINESE STATE Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi arrived in Davao City on Sunday afternoon for his two-day official visit in the Philippines.
According to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), the Chinese official arrived at 2:45 p.m. at the Davao airport. He was welcomed by DFA Undersecretary for Policy Enrique A. Manalo, Ambassador to China Jose Santiago L. Sta. Romana, and Davao City Vice-Mayor Bernard Al-ag.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin, Jr. will hold bilateral talks with Mr. Wang on Monday at the Davao Marco Polo Hotel. The economic managers will also meet with the Chinese Foreign Minister to discuss the government’s ‘Build, Build, Build’ infrastructure program. The DFA also said in a September statement that the planned joint exploration in the South China Sea will also be tackled during the official visit.
The meetings will be followed by the signing of bilateral documents on law enforcement, humanitarian assistance, and infrastructure.
This would be the second time Messrs. Locsin and Wang will meet since Mr. Locsin assumed as the post of the country’s top diplomat. The two officials talked at the sidelines of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) in Brussels last week.
At a press conference last Friday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said China-Philippines relations continued to improve as shown in the “ever deepening political mutual trust and fruitful outcomes in across-the-board practical cooperation” and the fifth meeting of President Rodrigo R. Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the Boao Forum last April.
“State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s visit to the Philippines will further implement the important consensus reached by the two heads of state, consolidate and deepen friendly cooperation and ensure closer communication and coordination in regional cooperation, so as to continuously move forward China-Philippines and China-ASEAN relations and East Asia cooperation,” Ms. Hua said.
After visiting Davao City, Mr. Wang is scheduled to visit Papua New Guinea and Fiji, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry.
In a related development, Mr. Locsin also met with senior officials of the DFA last Saturday for the first time since assuming his new post.
During the meeting, he said he will continue to pursue the President’s foreign policy directions by strengthening Manila’s relationship with its traditional allies and reaching out to new partners in the international community.
“My idea of an independent foreign policy is not to switch masters before whom we kneel but to get off our knees and stand on our feet and stand up for our country,” Mr. Locsin was quoted as saying to his undersecretaries and assistant secretaries during the meeting he convened after his arrival from New York.
“We are working for a good president and we have a good job ahead of us,” he added.
The DFA in a statement said this was the first time Mr. Locsin met with his management team as he had to leave for Brussels to represent the President at the ASEM.
After his arrival, Mr. Wang attended the inaugural opening of the Chinese Consulate General in Davao City with Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin, Jr.
“Being the biggest Philippine city in terms of land area, and the third largest in terms of population, the inauguration of the Chinese Consulate General here in Davao is an auspicious sign of the city’s promise and the bright prospects for our engagement with China,” Mr. Locsin said his remarks.
The DFA noted that Davao is renowned for its strategic location as a gateway to the “rich resources and culture of Mindanao.” The area also accounts for 40% of Chinese fruit imports from the Philippines.
The country’s diplomat also said he is looking forward to discuss with Mr. Wang on Monday ways to further advance Philippines-China relations through cooperation in various areas, which include trade, investments, infrastructure, tourism, agriculture, education, science and technology, anti-terrorism, anti-narcotics and cultural and people-to-people exchanges.
By Camille A. Aguinaldo