By Camille A. Aguinaldo, Reporter
CHINESE STATE Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi will visit Manila from Sept. 16 to 18, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) announced on Wednesday.
In a statement, the DFA said the visit will provide an opportunity for the Philippines and China to further discuss the planned joint oil and gas exploration in the South China Sea.
Mr. Wang, a highly regarded diplomat in the international community, holds a bachelor’s degree from Beijing International Studies University and also a master’s degree in economics, according to chinavitae.com. He also pursued further studies at Georgetown University and speaks fluent English and Japanese.
Among Mr. Wang’s past assignments are director of the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, and postings to Japan in various capacities, including as ambassador, from the 1980s until 2007.
Mr. Wang’s scheduled visit will be his second official trip to the Philippines.
China and the Philippines are expected to come up with a framework of cooperation on joint exploration in the South China Sea that the DFA said “conforms with respective rules and regulations as well as international laws.”
Mr. Wang’s counterpart, Alan Peter S. Cayetano, said the two countries are targeting a signed framework by September.
DFA also said Manila and Beijing will continue to “manage differences” with the South China Sea issue through dialogues and consultations.
“State Councilor Wang Yi’s visit is a demonstration that our bilateral ties are becoming solid and steady as never before,” Mr. Cayetano said in a statement.
“The Philippines and China are both committed to continue on the path of cooperation, all the while ensuring that the Filipino and the Chinese peoples will reap the dividends of our mutual efforts,” he added.
The government’s Build, Build, Build infrastructure program is also expected to be discussed during Mr. Wang’s visit.
The government’s economic team led by Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III visited Beijing last month to ink bilateral deals on China-funded infrastructure projects.
Malacañang, for its part, downplayed remarks by President Rodrigo R. Duterte regarding China, in his interview Tuesday with Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador S. Panelo.
“Kaya nag-away kami (That’s why we fought). We had a little bit of -— hindi naman (not really) animosity kasi ‘yung (because the Chinese) Navy palapit doon eh parang sinisigawan nila (approached them and issued a radio warning), ‘You Filipinos, you get there, you will be causing trouble.’ Eh samantalang kaibigan tayo (We’re supposed to be friends),” the President said, referring to reports last month of Philippine pilots flying over the disputed South China Sea.
Mr. Duterte added: “So, the least that we can do since I cannot make a move to remove them forcibly, because I’ll end up in a war, which we will be losing, wala talaga (nothing really).”
In his press briefing at the Palace on Wednesday, Presidential Spokesperson Harry L. Roque, Jr. said, “Hindi naman nag-away kung hindi uminit ang ulo niya siguro is a better expression. Uminit ang ulo niya doon sa nabalita na warning na ibinigay doon sa mga piloto natin na lumilipad sa isla na pag-aari natin. So, uminit lang ang ulo.” (It’s not that they fought but he got mad, is a better expression. He got mad on hearing reports about our pilots being warned against flying over an island that we own. So, he just got mad.) — with Arjay L. Balinbin