PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte will be making foreign trips to Brunei Darussalam, China, and Japan this October as he tries to chart his “independent foreign policy” and secure economic and trade deals as he visits neighboring countries.
Duterte’s visit to Brunei was postponed by the deadly explosion in his home city of Davao on Sept. 2, but Malacañang said Saturday Duterte will finally push through with his scheduled state visit to Brunei from Oct. 16 to 18, where he is expected to meet Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah and look into the plight of overseas Filipino workers there.
On board a chartered Philippine Airlines flight, the President will then proceed to China for his much-anticipated state visit there from Oct. 18 to 21, amid the ongoing territorial row between the two countries over islets and atolls in the South China Sea.
Aside from meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premiere Li Kequiang to discuss bilateral issues, Duterte is also expected to ink important defense and economic deals with the East Asian country, with which he wanted to partner as he “crosses the Rubicon” with long-time ally the United States.
The trip to China will show whether Duterte will stay true to his pronouncements that he will assert Manila’s victory in an international arbitration case against Beijing over disputed territories in the South China Sea.
“I am willing to talk. I am going to China. And if it is just the two of us there, I will present the problem to him. And I would say to him, ‘this piece of paper, the arbitral award, we don’t go out of the four corners of this paper. Let’s talk,” Duterte earlier said, saying he wanted a diplomatic dialogue with China, rather than anger officials there and they cut (ties) completely.
Severing ties with China would have an impact on maritime security as well as the livelihood of local fishermen, the President has said.
Duterte will then take a three-day break returning to the country before making an official visit to Japan, one of the country’s strategic allies, from Oct. 25 to 27 where the government is expected to commit to helping Manila expand its maritime security capabilities.
While Duterte is expected to meet once more Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, some media reports claim Duterte requested an audience with Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko.
The Imperial Couple visited the Philippines last January to mark the 60th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations between the Philippines and Japan.
Japan is expected to provide further maritime security assistance to Manila and “push for greater trade activities” between the countries.