Xi to attend APEC meeting
China-Philippines oil exploration deal likely: expert
China and the Philippines are likely to sign a joint oil exploration deal during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s upcom- ing state visit to the Southeast Asian country, leading Chinese commentators to note on Monday that such an agreement would greatly enhance bilateral ties.
Xi is scheduled to visit Papua New Guinea, Brunei, and the Philippines from Thursday to November 21, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang announced on Monday.
According to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Xi will attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders’ meeting from Saturday to
Sunday in Papua New Guinea’s capital city of Port Moresby.
It will be the first time Papua New Guinea to host the event. The weeklong get-together is held under the theme of “Harnessing Inclusive Opportunities, Embracing the Digital Future,” the Xinhua News Agency reported on Monday.
Xi’s presence at the APEC meetings this year is sure to project a great deal of confidence to governments and enterprises worldwide by demonstrating the world’s second largest economy’s unwavering support for free trade and globalization, said Xu Liping, a Southeast Asian studies expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
Bai Ming, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, said that the “2018 APEC meetings will be the first to be held amid ongoing ChinaUS trade frictions and the growing trend of isolationism, and the get-together will become more pragmatic than ever and push the idea of forming a free trade zone in the Asia-Pacific region.”
At least a timetable for establishing a free trade zone in the Asia-Pacific region will be discussed during the APEC meetings this year, predicted Xu.
How to make such APEC multilateral free trade agreements work with other potential regional trade agreements such as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership will be a key issue at the APEC summit, Bai noted.
During Xi’s stay in Papua New Guinea, he will also meet with leaders from Pacific Island countries which have diplomatic ties with China, according to the Foreign Ministry website.
US Vice President Mike Pence is also expected to attend the APEC meetings, according to a statement issued by the White House on Wednesday, Xinhua reported.
Xi’s visit to the Philippines is of great significance as the two countries have come to a historic juncture that is likely to lead to enhanced bilateral ties and increased pragmatic cooperation, Xu told the Global Times.
It is very likely that the two countries will reach an agreement on joint oil exploration in the South China Sea, Xu said, noting that the Philippines currently relies heavily on imported oil and a deal with China to develop offshore oil resources would give the Philippine economy a great boost.
Manila will first have to clear all legal barriers to joint oil exploration and ease public opposition, which may hinder future oil projects, Xu noted.
Filipino presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo revealed that President Rodrigo Duterte, when interviewed by a group of Chinese reporters on Wednesday, said he was hoping Xi would visit his residence in Davao City, the local news site philstar.com reported on Friday.
This kind of diplomacy, which aims to strengthen personal relationships, could lead the two leaders to conclude other deals on improving infrastructure in the less developed southern region of the Philippines, Xu told the Global Times on Monday.