BEIJING—The Philippines and China agreed to sign a total of 13 government-to-government agreements to work on joint Coast Guard cooperation in the contested West Philippine Sea, tourism, transportation and narcotics control.
President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping, witnessed the signing of the documents after an expanded bilateral meeting on Thursday, Oct. 20. Cabinet secretaries and ministers signed the documents.
“At the ceremony right now, we have witnessed the signing of 13 bilateral cooperation agreements that cover a wide range of areas from the production capacity, to infrastructure, to agriculture, to quarantine inspection and also one between coast guards. The signing of cooperation agreement between coast guards of the two countries means that the two countries will start cooperation on maritime affairs,” Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin said.
The documents, signed in the middle of Duterte’s four-day state visit to China included:
• Memorandum of understanding (MOU) on Production Capacity and Investment Cooperation
• Agreement on Economic and Technological Cooperation between the Government of China and the Philippines
MOU on Strengthening Trade, Investment and Economic Cooperation
• MOU on Drafting China-Philippines Economic Cooperation Development Plans
• Tourism MOU Implementation Plan 2017-2022
• MOU on the Lists of Transportation and Infrastructure Cooperation Projects
MOU on Financing Cooperation between the China’s Eximbank (Export-Import Bank of China) and the Department of the Treasury of the Philippines
• Agricultural Cooperation Action Plan 2017-2019
• Protocol on Cooperation between PDEA of the Philippines and the Narcotics Control Bureau of the Ministry of Public Security of China
• MOU on the Establishment of a Joint Coastal Guard Committee on Maritime Cooperation
• MOU on Supporting Conduct of Feasibility Studies for Major Projects
• MOU on News Information Exchange Training and for Other Purposes
• MOU on Cooperation on Animal and Plant Inspection and Quarantine
Liu said that the two Presidents had in-depth discussions on enhancing the practical cooperation between the two countries across the board and they have reached broad agreement.
Liu said that both Presidents agreed that China and the Philippines will return to track of dialogue and consultation to properly handle the South China Sea issue.
“This in itself signifies a new stage of maritime cooperation between the two countries. China is ready for discussions with our friends in the Philippines on maritime cooperation and cooperation in many other areas. And the details will be further discussed by the responsible authorities of both sides following this visit,” he added.
Philippine authorities did not elaborate on the agreement on joint coast guard cooperation or say if this would mean that the two countries would agree to joint patrols in the disputed waters.
Liu said neither of the presidents mentioned the issue of the Scarborough Shoal, which they call Huangyan Island, but they did talk about the cooperation in fishery.
“They agreed that the two countries will strengthen fishery cooperation in the South China Sea and also cooperation in terms of fishery products, industries.”
The two countries, well, they adopt the complementarity of the development strategies after Duterte agreed to join in the building of the Maritime Silk Road. And China will also increase cooperation with the Philippines in infrastructure, agriculture and finance.
China will also take an active part in the infrastructure development in the Philippines, vowing more than $13.5 billion in providing financing support to the Philippines in this aspect.
China said that they also support Duterte’s efforts in drug trafficking, and will carry on law enforcement cooperation with the Philippines. The two countries will also strengthen cooperation in tourism.
President Xi Jinping told Duterte that China “will lift the travel advisories issued a few years ago to Chinese citizens traveling to the Philippines.”
“This lift will encourage more Chinese citizens to travel in the Philippines,” Liu said, quoting President Xi.
The Chinese side has also resumed permits to 27 Philippine companies exporting tropical fruits to China, including mangoes.
In the area of tourism, the two Presidents also talked about increasing people-to-people ties between the two countries through efforts to enhance exchanges in education between tourists, sending students to each other, and establishing cultural centers in each other’s country.
“The cultural exchanges will start very soon. The two Presidents also talked about cooperation in regional and international affairs,” Liu added.
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