Xi to at­tend APEC meet­ing

China-Philip­pines oil ex­plo­ration deal likely: ex­pert

Global Times US Edition - - FRONT PAGE - By Deng Xiaoci

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.

Philip­pines visit

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.

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