President Rodrigo Duterte’s trip to China has been cut short due to the postponement of his initial plan to visit Fujian province.
President Duterte’s visit was initially scheduled from Aug. 28 to Sept. 2, but the Department of Foreign Affairs announced his trip will end on Sept. 1.
In a Palace briefing, officials said Duterte’s plan to visit Fujian province where a school was built in honor of his mother, Soledad, has been postponed due to “logistical issues” and will be moved instead to a “more appropriate period in the future.”
Chief of Presidential Protocol Eric Borje, who joined the briefing, said the decision to postpone the Fujian visit “was made mutually” by both Philippine and Chinese government.
“It’s taken out of the schedule because the decision was made that it’s more appropriate to be held at a later time and not at the time,” Borje told Palace reporters.
Duterte himself announced last week that he will visit Fujian province to lead the inauguration of a school that was built in honor of his mother.
“The decision for the non-inclusion of this particular stop went through the vetting process of all agencies and this was the recommendation,” Borje told Palace reporters.
The President will arrive in Beijing on Aug. 28. The next day, he will have a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping. He has vowed to invoke the 2016 arbitral award that favored Manila over Beijing in their territorial dispute over the South China Sea. China has refused to recognize the decision.
Duterte and Xi are set to sign agreements in education, science and technology, economic and social development, said Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Meynardo Montealegre.
“Both leaders will also witness the signing of a number of cooperative bilateral documents and memorandum of understanding which are all aimed to further increase the breadth and depth of our cooperation between the Philippines and China,” Montealegre said.
On Aug. 30, there were scheduled business meetings concerning the Department of Trade and Industry.
Duterte will head to Guangdong on Aug. 31 where he will meet Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan before watching the Fiba World Cup 2019 game between Gilas and Italy.
Wang has also been tasked by President Xi to accompany Duterte in the game, Borje said.
“The vice president is expected to be joined by the leaders of the Province of Guangdong,” Borje added.
Duterte drew flak earlier when he said the Philippine team would surely lose to Italy because of their height difference.
It was Xi who invited Duterte to visit China, Montealegre said. Xi has been widely criticized by foreign analysts and leaders for militarizing the disputed areas in the West Philippine Sea and for harassing foreign navy and fishermen.
“In Beijing, the President will hold bilateral meeting with President Xi Jinping to discuss the accomplishments as well as the shared goals of the Philippines and China under our Comprehensive Strategic Cooperation,” Montealegre said.
The Palace has yet to release the official list of government officials who will join Duterte in his fifth trip to China since he assumed presidency in 2016.
But Montealegre said Cabinet officials from economic and security clusters will join the President in his five-day visit.
Montealegre also said the government cannot finalize the talking points of President Duterte’s meeting with Xi, saying it will be the Chief Executive’s call.
The visit will also mark Duterte’s eighth bilateral engagement with his Chinese counterpart.