Philippines and China establish coconut-shipping protocols

Arturo Kim
November 23, 2018

Xi made the assurances after holding talks with President Rodrigo Duterte and other officials on a visit to the Philippines aimed at deepening relations with the American treaty ally.

As the Philippines pursued closer ties with its Asian neighbors, Japan and China were offering loans and grants worth $9 billion each to partly fund the "Build, Build, Build".

Chinese President Xi Jinping called his visit to long-time USA ally the Philippines a "milestone", as he aimed to boost blossoming ties on the promise of billions of dollars in backing for mega-projects.

But only a fraction of China's pledged support has materialised, exposing Duturte to criticisms he has been complicit in allowing China to pose threats to Philippines' sovereignty, and been left high and dry by Beijing.

Though public opinion is largely supportive of Duterte's presidency, surveys consistently show reservations about his China policy and his personal dislike of the United States.

The two leaders on Tuesday oversaw 29 agreements of sorts, many of them broad or vague, from cooperating in education, culture and industrial park development to jointly promoting infrastructure, agriculture cooperatives and establishing sanitation protocols for shipping coconuts.

"The two sides will seek greater complementarity between China's Belt and Road Initiative and the Philippines' development strategy, move forward cooperation around the three pillars of security, development, and people-to-people ties and then make our cooperation more comprehensive and balanced", he added.

China and the Philippines agreed a deal concerning joint oil and gas exploration in the disputed South China Sea on Tuesday in Manila.

The same survey found that 65 percent were aware of China's abuses of Filipino fishermen in the disputed West Philippine Sea. "We will not change course", U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said at a meeting last week in Papua New Guinea that was attended by leaders of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, including Xi.

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Meanwhile, on the South China Sea issue, both sides reaffirmed that contentious issues are not the sum total of China-Philippines bilateral relations and should not exclude mutually beneficial cooperation in other fields.

Xi said the Chinese government is also "looking forward" to accommodate more Filipino English teachers in China.

Besides teachers, the Chinese president said they are mulling on increasing job opportunities for Filipino nurses. While Western governments have sharply criticized Duterte's brutal crackdown on illegal drugs, China has not.

Acting Supreme Court Chief Justice Antonio Carpio told the South China Morning Pos t on Wednesday that he had not seen the signed agreement but confirmed "this (leaked) Chinese draft was not signed".

Rodrigo Duterte and Xi Jinping.

The agreement also states that "all discussions negotiations and activities of the two governments or their authorized enterprises under or pursuant to this memorandum of understanding will be without prejudice to the respective legal positions of both governments".

Arroyo praised China's leaders for the speedy and impressive growth of the Asian nation, "particularly during the last 40 years".

The poll of 1,200 people conducted in late September also showed trust in the United States remained "very good", but China was considered "poor". "It is good for China, it is good for the Philippines, it is good for the world", she said.

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