PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte will visit Beijing on October 20 and 21, in what reliable diplomatic sources say is a move to reboot the country’s relations with China amid territorial issues in the South China Sea.
Duterte had earlier announced he would visit China and Russia but did not give the exact dates.
A meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to set the direction for the revival of warm relations between the two countries, which ebbed following the arrest of Chinese fishermen in Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal off Zambales in April 2012.
The Philippine filing of a suit to nullify China’s nine-dash line territorial claim before the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague further strained relations between the two countries. The Philippines won the case, which China snubbed.
Duterte has appointed former President Fidel Ramos as special ambassador to China on the South China conflict.
During the visit, Duterte is expected to seek China’s cooperation in his fight against illegal drugs, a war that has alarmed the international community for its brutality. He has always said the drug lords running the drug syndicates in the Philippines are based in China.
Duterte also said he would be turning to China for trade and economic assistance, and infrastructure development as he vowed to lead the country away from the United States after President Barack Obama underscored the importance of respect for human rights and due process.
Duterte will bring a business delegation that will pitch Mindanao as an investment destination. A source said Duterte’s itinerary includes a visit to the Great Wall.
VERA Files is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”
Charmaine Deogracias, Vera Files