Boost for China-Philip­pine trade

> Duterte’s visit opens up new com­mer­cial op­por­tu­ni­ties amid South China Sea dis­pute

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SUNBIZ -

BEI­JING: China is look­ing to ex­pand trade with the Philip­pines dur­ing Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte’s visit this week, a spokesman for the Min­istry of Com­merce said yes­ter­day, as the two sides seek new com­mer­cial ties to soothe years of hos­til­ity.

Duterte will travel with at least 200 busi­ness lead­ers dur­ing his four-day trip which be­gan yes­ter­day, that could sig­nal a trans­for­ma­tion in a re­la­tion­ship dogged by ri­val ter­ri­to­rial claims in the South China Sea.

The move to en­gage China, just a few months af­ter an ar­bi­tral rul­ing in the dis­puted wa­ters sparked fears in the re­gion of a back­lash by Bei­jing, marks a strik­ing re­ver­sal in Philip­pine for­eign pol­icy since Duterte took of­fice on June 30.

China has wel­comed the shift in tone, which has put Manila’s re­la­tions with Wash­ing­ton un­der strain.

Com­merce Min­istry spokesman Shen Danyang said China’s trop­i­cal fruit im­ports from the Philip­pines was one area of trade the two sides would look to ex­pand dur­ing the visit.

China will strengthen trade links with the Philip­pines, en­cour­age busi­nesses to in­vest there, strengthen bi­lat­eral in­fra­struc­ture con­struc­tion and hu­man re­sources train­ing, Shen told a reg­u­lar news brief­ing.

“China looks for­ward to Philip­pine Pres­i­dent Duterte’s visit, fur­ther con­sol­i­dat­ing and strength­en­ing bi­lat­eral trade re­la­tions, and con­tin­u­ously el­e­vat­ing the scope of bi­lat­eral co­op­er­a­tion to bring more prac­ti­cal ben­e­fits to both peo­ples and coun­tries,” Shen said.

Duterte has said his trip to China rep­re­sents a turn­ing point in bi­lat­eral ties, but has ac­knowl­edged some pub­lic con­cern about his rapid rap­proche­ment moves.

On Sun­day, he said he would raise the controversial South China Sea rul­ing with China’s lead­ers and vowed not to sur­ren­der any sovereignty or de­vi­ate from the July award by the tri­bunal in the Hague that dealt a blow to China’s ex­ten­sive mar­itime claims in the re­gion.

Bei­jing has re­fused to recog­nise the case and has chided any coun­try telling it to abide by the rul­ing.

China’s of­fi­cial Xin­hua news agency said in a com­men­tary that the ver­dict had no place in ne­go­ti­a­tions, but that years of “bad blood” was giv­ing way to “good faith”.

“Should he demon­strate his good faith, the trip will present a long over­due op­por­tu­nity for the two na­tions, which en­joy long­stand­ing friend­ship, to heal the wounds of the past few years and steer their re­la­tion­ship back to the right course,” Xin­hua said. – Reuters

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