Manila, Nov 20 (IANS) Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived here on Tuesday for the first official visit of a Chinese President to the Philippines in 13 years, a sign of the close bilateral relations since the Southeast Asian country’s leader assumed power.
Xi said in a statement before he left for Manila that he would have in-depth discussions with President Rodrigo Duterte on elevating cooperation and to make a plan for progressing their bilateral relationship, reports Efe news.
Xi defined the current relationship between the two countries as “a rainbow after the rain” under the administration of Duterte, which began in June 2016.
The Chinese leader landed at Manila airport from Brunei, where he made an official visit on Monday after having participated in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Papua New Guinea.
The two leaders will meet on Tuesday at Malacanang Palace, Duterte’s official residence and principal workplace, and will attend the signing of several bilateral agreements.
In recent months, several members of Duterte’s cabinet have said the countries are negotiating a joint exploration deal in the disputed South China Sea, which could be signed on this visit.
In 2016, the Philippines won a historic ruling at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague against China’s claims to territory in the South China Sea, but Duterte has faced criticism for failing to enforce it.
The presidential spokesperson of the Philippines, Salvador Panelo, said that Duterte will also talk with Xi about the $24 billion in investments and loans that Beijing promised to the Philippines two years ago and of which only one small part has been executed.
Before Xi leaves Manila on Wednesday, he will also meet the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, and with the Chinese-Filipino community in the capital.
The authorities of Manila have reinforced security measures during the two-day visit with more than 5,500 police officers in the city. They have also closed the streets through which Xi will be travelling.