China's Xi Jinping Pays His First Visit to the Philippines

20 Novembre, 2018, 14:54 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • China's Xi Jinping Pays His First Visit to the Philippines

The state visit comes days after both leaders attended the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Papua New Guinea.

The Chinese leader will depart Manila on Tuesday afternoon.

Philippine opposition senators have demanded President Rodrigo Duterte reveal details of joint energy exploration plans with China, warning such a deal risked affirming Chinese territorial claims that are not recognised under worldwide law.

"We have reopened the door of friendship and cooperation ... bringing real benefits to our peoples and making an important contribution to regional peace, stability and prosperity", Xi said in a statement issued after his arrival.

Duterte has refused to immediately demand Chinese compliance to the landmark ruling, which invalidated China's sweeping claims to the waters, where Beijing has transformed a string of disputed reefs into missile-protected island bases. Carpio, a staunch advocate of Philippine sovereign claim over disputed waters and territories in the South China Sea, particularly the West Philippines Sea, said the agreement signed by the two leaders is consistent with the 2016 ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration that the Philippines has a full 200 nautical miles exclusive economic zone in the West Philippine Sea. The administration of Duterte's predecessor, Benigno Aquino III, brought the disputes with China over the strategic waterway to worldwide arbitration and won, but China has ignored the outcome.

"First is that we are enjoying the best of our relationship", Duterte said, citing renewed economic and trade relations between the two countries. Both Xi and Duterte have often been in the crosshairs of human rights groups.

President Duterte and members of his Cabinet will lead a welcome ceremony for Xi on the Kalayaan Grounds at Malacañang.

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They also asked the Senate to call on the executive not to sign any agreement that would diminish the Philippines' exclusive right to explore, develop and use its natural resources.

According to them, this would lead to the country essentially recognizing an unlawful co-ownership with China of the West Philippine Sea since Chinese and Filipino nationals would jointly decide the exploration, development and use of the resources there. "It's actually his first visit as President of China to the Philippines", he said.

Dominguez, who will be the secretary-in-attendance during Xi's visit, assured that preparations were underway to ensure a smooth and productive visit of the Chinese leader.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague invalidated China's claim to almost all of the South China Sea in 2016 and recognized the Philippines' sovereign rights to fish and explore for resources in the West Philippine Sea.

Sen. JV Ejercito said he hoped Mr. Duterte would clarify with Xi the freedom of navigation in the South China Sea.

"We will continue to fly and sail wherever global law allows and our national interests demand; harassment will only strengthen our resolve".

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