By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
The Philippines and China signed Wednesday a total of 14 agreements in various areas of cooperation.
The signing was witnessed by President Duterte and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang after their expanded bilateral meeting in Malacañang Wednesday.
Two of the 14 deals were the Agreement on Economic and Technical Cooperation and the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Jointly Promoting on Second Basket of Key Infrastructure Projects Cooperation between the Philippines’ Department of Finance and China’s Ministry of Commerce.
The two agreements were signed by Department of Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III and International Trade Representative and Vice Minister of Commerce Fu Ziying.
The Exchange of Letters on Project of Dangerous Drugs Abuse Treatment and Rehabilitation Centers was signed by Fu and Health Secretary Francisco Duque.
The Exchange of Letters on Project of Two Bridges Across Pasig River was signed by Fu and Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar.
Fu also signed with Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez the MOU for Cooperation on Industrial Parks Development between the Philippines’ Department of Trade and Industry and China’s Ministry of Commerce.
The MOU on Jointly Promoting the Philippine National Railways South Long Haul Project Cooperation between the Philippines’ Department of Transportation and China’s Ministry of Commerce was signed by Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade and Fu.
The Implementation Framework for the Memorandum of Understanding and Development of Project List for Cooperation in Production Capacity and Investment between the Philippines’ National Economic and Development Authority and China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) was signed by Socioeconomic Secretary Ernesto Pernia and NDRC Vice Chairman Zhang Yong.
Zhang signed with Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu the MOU between the Philippines’ Department of Environment and Natural Resources and China’s NDRC concerning the Provision of Goods for Addressing Climate Change.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Zhang Yesui signed the MOU on Defense Industry Cooperation between the Philippines’ Department of National Defense and China’s State Administration of Science Technology Industry of the National Defense.
Zhang and Intellectual Property Office Director General Josephine Santiago signed the MOU between the Philippines’ Intellectual Property Office and China’s State Intellectual Property on Cooperation in the Field of Intellectual Property.
The MOU the Philippines’ National Youth Commission (NYC) and the All-China Youth Federation on Strengthening Youth Cooperation was signed by NYC Chairperson Cariza Seguerra and Zhang.
The Republic of the Philippines 2017 Renminbi Bond Issuance Underwriting Agreement was signed by Dominguez and Bank of China Limited Chairman Chen Siqing.
Lastly, Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) Chairman Gregorio Garcia III and China Development Bank Chairman Hu Huaibang signed the MOU between the Bases Conversion and Development Authority and China Development Bank.
P1.15-B Marawi aid
Li, who described the warmth of the Philippines-China relationship to the temperature of Manila, said that the Chinese government will extend 150 million Renminbi (RMB), or P1.15 billion, worth of grants for the rehabilitation of the war-torn city of Marawi, Lanao del Sur.
“The Chinese side supports the efforts made by Mr. President and the Philippine government in upholding the security and stability of your country,” Li said.
“The Chinese government will provide 150 million RMB of grants for the rebuilding and improvement of livelihood in Marawi to demonstrate the support of the Chinese people,” he added.
According to Li, he believes that Duterte will be able to restore Marawi to its former glory, if not able to improve it.
“We have full confidence that under your leadership, Mr. President, and the leadership of your government, the rebuilding of Marawi will be completed at a very early date and the local people will embrace an even better life,” he said.
China appreciates PH
According to Li, China has been “heartened by the boom in the practical cooperation between our two countries.”
He noted how after the first 10 months of this year, China has become the Philippines’ top trading partner, with China having imported some 13,000 batches of tropical fruits from the Philippines and 14 new flights have been opened between the two countries.
“We are expecting that the Chinese tourists will make some one million trips to the Philippines by the end of this year,” Li said.
Li also said that the practical cooperation between the two countries in areas such as infrastructure, agriculture and poverty alleviation has also been going strong.
“My suggestion is that our two sides may sit down together to discuss and formulate cooperation plans in these areas, lasting for the next five or even to 10 years to take forward our cooperation in these specific fields, to send out message to people of the two countries, as well as the international community, that China-Philippine relationship will continuously go forward and the people-to-people friendship between us will be further strengthened,” Li said.
Rifle that killed Hapilon
In the same expanded bilateral meeting, President Duterte bared plans to return the rifle that he claimed killed Islamic State’s (ISIS’s) emir in Southeast Asia Isnilon Hapilon and be a symbol of China’s critical help to the Philippines.
Duterte, in the said meeting in Malacañang, reported that Hapilon met his end through the Chinese rifle.
“And I am happy to report to you that one of the rifles that you gave us killed Hapilon, the leader or the emir that they named in the Philippines,” Duterte told Li.
The Philippine leader also said he will look for the soldier who fired the fatal shot and return the said firearm to its birthplace China.
“I am going to return to you the rifle so that the Chinese people know or would know that it was critical. It’s a symbol of the critical help, the crucial moment when we needed most and there was nobody to help us at that time,” he said.
Duterte thanked the Chinese government anew for helping the Philippine government at the height of the five-month war in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur.
“During the critical stage of the Marawi incident, where we needed help badly, it was China who responded immediately for our cry for help,” he said.
“And the arms that you gave us helped abbreviate, shortened the military fight there with the effective use of the weapons,” he added.
Duterte assured Li that he will let the Filipino know of the Chinese government’s many assistance to the Philippines.
“We will officially announce of the assistance, the trade agreements and so many things that you have promised us to give and I know that it will come to us in the days to come,” he said.
Duterte said that the Philippines is humbled by China’s assistance and assured that there will be a time that the Philippines will be able to give back.
“We are gratified by the so many things you’ve done so far. You have proven to be a good friend of the Philippines,” he said.
“We cannot offer you anything at this time, because we are not really in parity as yours. But maybe in the years to come the Filipinos will reciprocate what you have done for us,” he added.
Duterte also expressed hope that the relationship between the two countries will continue to grow.
“You have proven to be a good friend of the Philippines. And we look forward to a more robust, more productive relations in the days to come,” he said.
Li, meanwhile, noted that the two countries are now working together to strengthen the momentum of China-Philippines relations and try to make up for the time or the good opportunities we missed in the past.
“We are accelerating the implementation of the relevant cooperation projects and that is something that requires the joint efforts of both sides,” Li said.
“We are developing opportunities and a big market for each other. If we can work together, I believe, it will all bring benefits to the people of both countries and the regions as a whole,” he added.
Since assuming the presidency, Duterte has expressed that he wanted to develop a better relationship with China despite the maritime dispute over portions of the South China Sea.
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