By Arjay L. Balinbin, April 25 2019; Business World

Image Credit to Philippine Star

THE Philippines and China signed agreements Thursday on identifying priority investments and the rehabilitation of drug abusers, the President’s spokesperson said.

“The Palace wishes to announce that President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping witnessed the signing of agreements this morning, April 25, at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing,” spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo said in a statement.

Mr. Duterte was in Beijing to attend the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation from April 25 to 27 upon the invitation of Mr. Xi.

On the agreements signed, Mr. Panelo said: “First is the Exchange of Letters on Production Capacity and Investment Cooperation between the Philippines and China. This document proposes a project list which will serve as the focus of cooperation between the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) and (China’s) National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC). Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia of NEDA and Chairman He Lifeng of NDRC signed the document on behalf of their respective countries.”

“Second is the Handover Certificate Grant-Aid for the Dangerous Drugs Abuse Treatment and Rehabilitation Centers Project between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the Government of the People’s Republic of China. This is a ceremonial handover of the drug treatment facilities in Sarangani and Agusan del Norte provided by China through grant. Ambassador Jose Santiago L. Sta. Romana signed the document on our country’s behalf while Minister of Commerce Zhong Shan signed for China,” he added.

In his opening statement during his bilateral meeting with Mr. Xi, Mr. Duterte noted that the Belt and Road Forum “provides another opportunity to renew and reaffirm our valued relations based on mutual trust, respect, and friendship and must continue to grow strength and meaning in the coming years.”

He also said that the Philippines and China “must continue to work together to explore new areas of cooperation and partnership.”

“We look forward to a productive discussion on matters of mutual interest and concern,” he added.

The Philippine government, Mr. Duterte also said, would like to hear Mr. Xi’s thoughts on “progress achieved in further strengthening bilateral relations and recent developments in our region.”

He also noted that Mr. Xi’s visit to Manila in November last year “was a watershed moment in the Philippine-China ties.”’

“The decision to elevate bilateral ties to a comprehensive, strategic cooperation affirms the Philippines and China’s strong desire to further deepen and broaden this engagement,” he said.

“We envision… high-quality and good impact projects. The sooner they are completed, the sooner people on the ground will feel the benefits of Philippine-China relations,” the President added. — Arjay L. Balinbin