February 4, 2023

Filipino Guardian

Sentinels of Filipino Free Press

Marcos, Xi to discuss trade and security issues

PHILIPPINE STAR/ KRIZ JOHN ROSALES

Philippine President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. said Tuesday he intends to strengthen cooperation with China on agriculture, trade and industry, energy and regional security issues when he meets with his Chinese President during his three-day state visit counterpart meets.

“I look forward to discussing regional security issues and issues that do not belong to two friends like China and the Philippines, and leveraging trade and investment ties as we accelerate our post-pandemic growth,” he said in a live on Facebook transmitted farewell speech.

Mr Marcos, who took office in June, previously said the country was a “friend of all” and “not an enemy”. His state visit from January 3-5 is his first this year and the first outside of Southeast Asia.

Private sector officials will accompany him during the meetings as his government aims to finalize 10 bilateral deals with China, Mr Marcos said.

“I hope to return home to the Philippines with a harvest of agreements and investments that will benefit our countrymen and further strengthen the foundation of our economic environment,” he added.

In November, Chinese President Xi Jinping met with Mr Marcos in Bangkok, where they agreed to hold “friendly consultations” on handling the dispute in the South China Sea, the Chinese Embassy in Manila said in a Nov. 17 statement.

A Chinese Coast Guard vessel is said to have violently stolen missile debris that was being towed by a Philippine Navy ship in the disputed waters that month.

Mr Marcos previously said his visit to China could be a way to avoid further incidents in the South China Sea.

China claims more than 80% of the sea, which is believed to contain significant oil and gas resources and through which billions of dollars are traded each year. It has ignored a 2016 ruling by a United Nations-backed arbitral tribunal that voided its claim based on a 1940s map.

During his state visit, the Philippines and China would sign an agreement aimed at “avoiding miscalculations and miscommunications in the western Philippine Sea,” Deputy Secretary of State Nathaniel G. Imperial said last week, referring to marine areas within the Philippines. exclusive economic zone.

The agreement, which will be signed by Philippine Foreign Minister Jose Enrique A. Manalo and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, would establish direct communication between their offices at different levels, he added.

A group of Filipino-Chinese businessmen and some economists said last week the public should expect more partnerships with China on trade, tourism, agriculture, public housing and security after the state visit.

Some critics have viewed the meeting between Mr Marcos and Chinese President Xi Jinping with skepticism, citing China’s failure to deliver on its investment promises to ex-President Rodrigo R. Duterte.

“Given the failed promises and unfulfilled commitments made by President Xi and his administration to then-President Duterte worth $26 billion in projects and investments, I find it difficult to see any direct benefit from President Marcos’ China trip.” , Victor Andres C. Manhit, president of local think tank Stratbase ADR, said in a Messenger chat.

“Clearly, it will be difficult to see immediate benefits from the visit,” said Michael Henry Ll. Yusingco, a political analyst. “But the fact is, the visit may be an opportunity for the government to show its determination to defend our territorial sovereignty not only to China but also to other nations who are eagerly watching the state visit.”

In July, the Ministry of Transport said the Philippines had scrapped its loan applications from state-owned China Eximbank for three billion-dollar rail projects undertaken under the previous government.

Foreign policy experts said this week the meeting between Marcos and Xi will set the tone of ties between the two countries amid their maritime dispute.

His state visit would also decide whether China commits to repairing its damaged ties with the Southeast Asian nation, they said.

“Apart from sharing the wonders of our archipelago with our Chinese friends, increased people-to-people exchanges will allow us to fill gaps in understanding between the two countries at all levels,” said Mr. Marcos in his farewell address. — John Victor D. Ordonez