A Chinese Navy flotilla will pay a goodwill visit to Davao on Sunday, the Philippine Navy public affairs office said, the same day President Rodrigo Duterte and Indonesian President Joko Widodo will be on hand to inaugurate the new Davao-General Santos-Bitung, Indonesia shipping route.
Naval Forces Eastern Mindanao public affairs office chief Lt. Jetmark Marcos said the three ships expected in Davao are part of China People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy Task Group 150.
The guided missile destroyer Chang Chun (DDG-150), the Jin Zhou (FF-G532), a guided missile frigate, and the Chao Hu (890), a replenishment ship, will be met at sea outside Davao Gulf and escorted to Davao’s Sasa Wharf for welcoming ceremonies, Marcos said.
The Chinese vessels will be at Davao until Wednesday.
The arrival of the Chinese flotilla coincides with the visit of President Rodrigo Duterte and Indonesian President Joko Widodo to Davao on Sunday following the conclusion of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit. The two leaders will inaugurate the Davao-General Santos-Bitung, Indonesia roll-on/roll-off shipping service.
At the “Wednesdays at Habi at Kape” in Davao on Wednesday, Mindanao Development Authority Chairman Abul Khayr Alonto also said 19 Indonesian business leaders from the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce are expected to accompany Widodo, and have been invited to extend their stay in the city to explore opportunities with their local counterparts.
The Indonesian businessmen will meet with potential business partners from the Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry to explore ways to improve trade and economic relations, as well as details about using the new shipping route.
The new route cuts the travel time from the current three to five weeks by way of Davao-Manila-Jakarta-Bitung to just 1.5 days.
Alonto said the new route would encourage small and medium businesses to produce products that will cater to both the domestic and Asean markets.
“This will encourage us to produce more than what we can sell. In fact, this will encourage people to work further in enhancing cultural and economic means in their communities because we will be exporting what we can produce down here,” Alonto said.
M/V Super Shuttle RORO 14 owned by Asian Marine Transport Corporation will serve the route. The ship has a capacity of 500 20-foot equivalent units (TEU).
Alonto said the Davao-Gensan-Bitung route would facilitate not only the exchange of goods but also the movement of people, ideas, languages, and cultures.
He said he believes the new route will be sustained and is “just the beginning of a more strengthened partnership.”
Alonto said he was elated the Duterte administration pushed for the opening of this route as it institutionalizes the historical trading routes of the pre-Spanish era from Mindanao to Sulawesi, Indonesia and other locations in the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA).