Metro Manila, Philippines– Over 10 bilateral agreements are expected to be signed during President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s state visit to China on Jan. 3-5, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) bared during a Malacañang media briefing Thursday.
“During the state visit, about 10 to 14 bilateral agreements are expected to be signed in the areas of trade and investment, agriculture, renewable energy, infrastructure, development cooperation, people-to-people ties, and maritime security cooperation,” DFA Assistant Secretary for Asian and Pacific Affairs Neal Imperial said, adding that fostering economic cooperation is one of the primary goals of the trip.
Marcos is expected to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Premier Li Keqiang, and Li Zhanshu, Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of China.
The DFA gave a rundown of some of the bilateral agreements expected to be signed during the visit:
West Philippine Sea
“To avoid miscalculation and misunderstandings over the WPS, both sides have agreed to sign an agreement establishing direct communications between the foreign ministries of both countries at various levels.” Imperial said. The agreement is expected to be signed by DFA Secretary Enrique Manalo and his counterpart State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
Imperial said that Marcos would uphold “sovereignty and sovereign rights” of the WPS and the Philippines during the visit but added that “we can’t say how specific the discussions will be.”
“The President may raise or continue his discussions with President Xi on oil and gas cooperation,” he added.
The DFA official said there is strong interest from Chinese investors in the Philippine economy, especially in agriculture, renewable energy and nickel processing.
“China imports 70% of its nickel ore and concentrates from the Philippines so there’s potential in that sector,” he added.
He said an agreement to import durian from the Philippines is also expected to be finalized, as he noted the voracious appetite of the Chinese market for the fruit. There are also possible investments in regions of Mindanao that produce durian.
“You can call that some form of durian diplomacy,” he quipped.
Imperial said the Philippines plans to renew its agreement to participate in China’s Belt and Road initiative, which complements the infrastructure program of the Marcos administration.
China’s Belt and Road or the One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative is a global infrastructure development strategy that was adopted in 2013. Under the OBOR, China has poured investments into close to 150 countries.
Imperial said the Philippines is looking at possible grants from China amounting to 1.5 billion renminbi (₱12 billion) and a framework agreement for three priority bridges crossing the Pasig-Marikina river and the Manggahan floodway bridges construction project.
According to the DFA, Trade and Industry Secretary Alfredo Pascual is slated to sign a memorandum of agreement on digital cooperation during the visit.
“It has to do with exchange of best practices and capacity-building in digital connectivity, data, and emerging technologies,” Imperial said.
The Philippines and China are also expected to enter into a memorandum of agreement on tourism cooperation, according to the DFA.
“China was our second largest source of tourism in 2019, there were almost 1.8 million Chinese tourists who visited the Philippines. Now that China is planning to reopen after it recovers from this Covid-19 surge, we want to resume people-to-people exchanges,” Imperial said.
A large business delegation is scheduled to join the president during the state visit.
Aside from Manalo and Pacual, also joining the visit are First Lady Liza Araneta-Marcos, former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, House Speaker Martin Romualdez, Tourism Secretary Christina Frasco, and Information and Communications and Technology Secretary Ivan Uy.