PNoy visit to China expected to renew business ties despite territorial row

BEIJING (MindaNews/30 August) – The visit of Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino III here is expected to renew the ties of the Philippines and China, particularly in trade, and to strike an understanding over the territorial disputes in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) that for the past months have challenged both countries’ relations.

Although most of the activities of the five-day state visit will focus on increasing trade and investment between the two countries, the centerpiece of Aquino’s visit is how to maintain a strong relationship with a superpower nation amid a territory row.

In the past days, top diplomats of the two nations have been trumpeting upbeat remarks when Mr. Aquino and Chinese President Hu Jintao will have chance to discuss the territory row.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said that Aquino will be having a meeting with Chinese officials, particularly on intensifying bilateral relations, exchanges and cooperation in all areas, and to strengthen the two countries’ coordination in regional and international affairs.

China is ready to work with the Philippines to promote a bilateral strategic relationship of cooperation to score new achievements, Ma said in a statement.

Despite the differences in the West Philippines Sea issue, there is a positive development in terms of trade, culture, law enforcement and defense affairs

“Facts proved that the sound and stable development of China-Philippine relations is in the long-term and fundamental interest of the two countries and peoples, and is conducive to regional peace, stability and prosperity,” Ma said.

The Philippines and China have exchanged accusations in the past months over the dispute in the waters of West Philippine Sea. Both have showed their willingness to resolve the issue but the mode of solving the issue differs. The Chinese government wants the issue to solve through a direct bilateral talk, while the Philippine would rather want to bring the subject in the United Nations level.

As expected, Ma said the two sides will sign several deals covering cooperation in trade, culture and media.

“The Chinese government always attaches importance to the good-neighborly relationship of cooperation with the Philippines, our neighbor and a member country of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN),” Ma said.

During Mr. Aquino’s trip, the Philippines and China is expected to sign bilateral investment pacts with projects amounting to $60 billion.

Earlier, government economic managers of the Philippines and China held a top-level meeting that covered “wide range of bilateral economic cooperation” that is expected to be formally signed during the scheduled state visit of the President.

Trade and Industry Undersecretary for Policy Adrian Cristobal and his Chinese counterpart Vice Minister for Commerce Chen Jian, who both co-chaired the meeting, discussed the possibility of expanding further the two nations’ bilateral trade and investments, China’s overseas development assistance to the Philippines, technical cooperation on statistics and standards, the ASEAN China Free Trade Agreement, and factors in the existing environment which hamper the smooth flow of goods, investment and services.

China is the third largest trading partners of the Philippines with a $27-billion in trade.

Chinese exports to the Philippines for 2010 hit $11.5 billion, an increase of 34.3 percent from 2009. On the Philippine side, export to China breached the $1 billion mark last year.

China’s investments to the country also peaked at $86 million, up by 112 percent as compared to 2009, while total Philippine investments to China amounted to $116 million in 2010.

Last month, the Philippines, along with other four member countries of ASEAN, have edged out Japan in becoming the third largest trading partner of China. (Darwin Wally T. Wee / MindaNews)