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‘Hello, China; goodbye, US’

Du30 wins Xi pledge of $9b in loans

BEIJING—President Rodrigo Duterte met with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping Thursday, state media said, with China committing more than $9 billion in concessionary loans to support Philippine development programs, including drug.

Duterte is in China for a four-day trip that is expected to confirm his tilt away from Washington and towards Beijing’s sphere of influence.

The two leaders were to hold official talks and sign a “series of cooperation documents,” the official Xinhua news service reported.

ODD COURSE. President Rodrigo Duterte, reconfiguring his country’s diplomatic alliances, shakes hands Thursday with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping after a signing ceremony in Beijing, where he is on a four-day visit. He later told the Filipino community in Beijing it was time ‘to say goodbye, my friend’ —referring to Manila’s ally of 70 years Washington. AFP
Duterte is hoping to take advantage of Beijing’s deep pockets to score a raft of trade and infrastructure deals.

His recent rhetoric blasting the US and President Barack Obama and promising to sideline a territorial dispute over the strategically vital South China Sea have been welcomed in Beijing.

During a speech addressing the Filipino community in Beijing Wednesday, the firebrand president said the Philippines had gained little from its long alliance with the US, its former colonial ruler.

“Your stay in my country was for your own benefit. So time to say goodbye, my friend,” he said, as if addressing the US. He also repeated his denunciation of Obama as a “son of a bitch.”

“Foreign policy veers now towards” China, Duterte said. “No more American interference. No more American exercises.”

China, he said earlier, was good. “It has never invaded a piece of my country all these generations,” he said.

Xi, on the other hand, committed more than $9 billion in concessionary loans to support Duterte’s development projects, including drug rehabilitation, as part of mutual efforts to sustain the momentum of enhanced bilateral ties.

Of the more than $9-billion loan offer from China, more than $3 billion will come in the form of credit from private banks.

Meanwhile, a total of RMB100 million, or $15 million, will be earmarked for drug rehabilitation programs to support Duterte’s war on drugs. 

“Consensus-building is vital for bilateral relations to move forward amid differences. China is committed to these principles as shown by its efforts to strengthen bilateral ties in the past 41 years,” Xi said. 

Duterte’s state visit is expected to result in other government-to-government agreements as well as private business deals between Chinese and Filipino firms amounting to billions of dollars. 

Duterte and Xi agreed to return to a “track of dialogue” over the South China Sea in what is a “new stage of maritime cooperation,” China’s Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs Liu Zhenmin told reporters in Beijing Thursday. The two leaders did not discuss the disputed Scarborough Shoal.

Liu said China was ready to hold bilateral talks on maritime issues and that Duterte’s visit signified a full recovery of the Philippine-China friendship.

Officials from both countries signed 13 pacts on areas including trade, investment, tourism, narcotics, and maritime cooperation at the summit meeting. Pacts on transport infrastructure, financing from Export-Import Bank were among those forged as China committed to support infrastructure development in the Philippines.

Duterte said on Wednesday that he would welcome Chinese offers of aid, infrastructure funding and concessional financing.

“I will not ask but if they offer and if they’ll ask me, you need this aid? Of course, we are very poor,” Duterte said of China. “You need this railway? Yes sir. And if you can give us a soft loan, give us something like 20 years to pay.” 

Topics: President Rodrigo Duterte , Xi Jinping , Philippines , China , Philippine development programs-drug , Washington , Infrastructure deals
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