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Duterte, Xi to meet in Manila for the first time

20 November 2018

Xi also said they discussed the South China Sea issue.

The Philippines and China have reportedly been preparing an agreement for a joint exploration in the strategic sea lane, but it remains to be seen whether one will be signed during Chinese President Xi Jinping's state visit in the Philippines on Tuesday, November 20.

The territory that China does control accounts for "less than 8% of the total area of the South China Sea", noted Carpio, who was one of the lawyers who represented Manila in the arbitration at The Hague challenging China's South China Sea claims. "Indeed, amity solves worldwide disputes and even forges a more powerful alliance between both countries against threats to security, including terrorism, violent extremism, criminality, and the drug menace", he added.

Aside from their trade disputes, China and the United States have wrestled over the South China Sea. "We consider our country's long-lasting friendship with China and the presence of Chinese and Chinese-Filipinos in the country as integral parts of our own growth and progress", he said.

During his stay in the country, the Chinese leader will hold meetings with Duterte and other top government officials. On Tuesday, Xi will arrive at Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1.

Classes were suspended in Manila and thousands of police were deployed to secure the overnight visit of Xi, who Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte once called "a great president".

In the same statement, Malacañang also praised the Chinese leader's efforts in upholding a conducive environment while dealing with the South China Sea issue. After that, the two high-ranking officials will have a restricted meeting and an exchange of gifts, followed by a state banquet with toast remarks.

US Vice President Mike Pence at the ASEAN Summit in November 2018
US Vice President Mike Pence at the ASEAN Summit in November 2018

Xi has denied the Chinese loans could lead to "foreign debt trap".

"I am pleased with the current positive momentum of the Philippine-China relations", Duterte said.

The Philippines is the last stop of Xi's three-country Asia-Pacific tour.

The deals signed Tuesday include a $2 billion Chinese investment to convert part of a former USA airbase north of Manila into an industrial park and a loan agreement for a railway across the main Philippine island of Luzon, officials said.

China and the Philippines also signed an agreement to finance the Kaliwa dam project, deals to build a 581km railway line from Los Banos to Matnog, on currency swaps, and for infrastructure development in Duterte's hometown Davao. "We filed a resolution demanding for transparency on what will be signed tomorrow or the next day".

Details of the oil and gas deal, including its location, were not immediately disclosed, but according to a draft framework released by Philippine opposition Senator Antonio Trillanes, exploration would be carried out based on the principles of mutual respect and benefit, and would not affect the two nations' positions on sovereignty and maritime rights.

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Duterte, Xi to meet in Manila for the first time