The two formal accords were signed after President Rodrigo Duterte met with Chinese President Xi Jinping and agreed to further enhance the bilateral relations at the Great Hall of the People.
In a statement, Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said the Philippines and China would come up with a project list that will serve as the focus of cooperation between the National Economic and Development Authority and the National Development and Reform Commission.
“The drug treatment facilities, funded by China through a grant, are located in Sarangani and Agusan del Norte. Ambassador Jose Santiago Sta. Romana signed the document on the country’s behalf while Minister of Commerce Zhong Shan signed for China,” Panelo said.
At the start of their meeting, Duterte called for stronger relations between the Philippines and China, saying the bilateral ties were based on mutual trust, respect and friendship.
Duterte is in China to attend the second Belt and Road forum for the Philippines.
Xi’s Belt and Road Initiative, unveiled in 2013, aims to bolster a sprawling network of land and sea links with Southeast Asia, Central Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa.
“The Philippines and China must continue to work together to explore new areas of cooperation and partnership. We look forward to a productive discussion on matters of mutual interest and concern,” President Duterte said.
Duterte also congratulated China on its 70th founding anniversary and said Xi’s state visit to Manila in November last year was a “watershed moment” in the Philippines-China ties.
“The forum provides another opportunity to renew and reaffirm our valued relations based on mutual trust, respect, and friendship and must continue to grow strength and meaning in the coming years,” he said.
“The decision to elevate bilateral ties to a comprehensive, strategic cooperation affirms the Philippines and China’s strong desire to further deepen and broaden this engagement,” Duterte added.
Earlier, Sta. Romana said the Philippines has asked China to practice “self-restraint in the South China Sea, after the presence of several hundred Chinese vessels near Pag-asa Island triggered protests from Manila.”
The ambassador said Chinese officials have not responded to the Philippine request.
At the same time, Sta. Romana said a suit filed by former Philippine officials against Xi and other Chinese officials before the International Criminal Court would not affect Philippine-China relations.
“It has no impact on bilateral relations. China inquired whether it was state-sponsored, [and the] Philippines said it’s not,” Sta. Romana said.
Earlier, former Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario and former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales filed a complaint against Xi, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, and China’s Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua for committing crimes against humanity in connection to China’s efforts to dominate the South China Sea.
Duterte has denied any government hand in the suit.
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