Philippines and China sign MOU on oil and gas cooperation

Xi's 2-day state visit that ended yesterday is an opportunity for Duterte to show that "they are making some progress" after resetting ties that were strained by disputes in the South China Sea, Lim said.

"This decision, which will mark a new milestone in our relations, speaks of our shared determination to be good friends and good neighbors".

-China trade tensions. Vice President Mike Pence attacked China at APEC, calling on member states to avoid loans that will leave them indebted to Beijing. Demonstrators voiced opposition to the construction of Chinese maritime military bases in worldwide waters in the South China Sea, as well as onerous loan deals to finance Chinese-led projects under Xi's ambitious, global "one belt, one road" infrastructure scheme, CNN Philippines reported.

"One reason is that Xi wants to move away from their territorial conflict in the South China Sea".

During the joint press conference at Malacañan Palace Tuesday evening, Duterte said Xi's visit was an opportune time for both countries to celebrate the growing strength of their friendship and cooperation.

Duterte said Philippine participation in Beijing's "Belt and Road Initiative" was discussed and Xi invited the Philippine leader to attend the infrastructure loan program's second global forum in China next year.

In fact, since President Duterte took office in 2016, Sino-Philippine relations were highly boosted. "Our relationship has been turned around and put on the right trajectory", he said.

"The agreements between our two countries are not totally fair". She said China has shown the world "that rapid economic growth and modernization is possible through a combination of vision, political will, and open and responsible relations with other nations".

He hopes that the two sides can enhance cooperation in trade and economy and further strengthen people-to-people exchanges.

The state banquet was attended by Sotto, Arroyo, other top government officials, and prominent businessmen.

President Duterte is expected to embark on another visit to China in April 2019 amid the revitalized bilateral friendship and cooperation between the two countries.

Duterte said there was "a deepening trust and confidence" between them and he and Xi had discussed increasing trade and investment, and China's involvement in his signature $180 billion (20 trillion yen) "Build, Build, Build" infrastructure program.

Moreover, Philippine Ambassador to China Chito Sta Romana suggested that the slow pace is an indicator that the country is far from falling into the debt trap.

The two leaders, Zubiri said, had chose to forego in the meantime the "controversial issues" as they concentrate on strengthening their countries' friendship.

"There's friction between China and Western nations", Duterte said last week, noting that the Philippines doesn't want to see any miscalculation.

Judging from his remarks, one can not rule out the possibility that Beijing and Hanoi may strive together for a win-win situation and stability in the South China Sea in the coming days.

"Because Winnie the Pooh is banned in China because he's the spitting image of Xi Jinping, let's protest his presence by posting memes and photos of him with his (lookalike)", Facebook user Wilfredo Garrido wrote.

Zubiri said China will "make it easier" for Filipinos who are applying for English teaching positions to acquire working visas. While Western governments have sharply criticized Duterte's brutal crackdown against illegal drugs, China has not. Both Southeast Asian countries are rival claimants in the South China Sea, but (under Duterte, at least) both have adopted a relatively friendly tone toward China despite their maritime discord.

The MoU was much debated prior to Xi's visit, especially after a Duterte critic leaked a supposed draft.

Arroyo, who led the House contingent, thanked the Chinese leader for the general support he has demonstrated toward development of the Philippines.

The type of deal made, a memorandum of understanding (MOU), is typified by a lower level of commitment as compared to the more binding memorandum of agreement (MOA).

Lopez said at the APEC meetings that the Philippines won't agree to "unreasonable terms" in any transaction - including with China.

"So we congratulate you for that".

  • Joey Payne