Duterte to sign $13.5 billion deal with China; announced military & economic break with US


Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, left, shakes hands with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang ahead of their meeting at the Great Hall of the People. Wu Hong/Pool Photo via AP

BEIJING — Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez says the Philippines and China will sign $13.5 billion of deals during President Rodrigo Duterte’s visit to China this week.

Lopez was speaking Thursday at a business forum in Beijing attended by Duterte and various Chinese and Filipino officials.

The forum followed meetings between Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping, who hailed the Southeast Asian nation leader’s visit as being of “milestone significance.”

Earlier in the day, the leaders oversaw the signing of agreements that touched on the financing of infrastructure projects, boosting trade and tourism, lifting export restrictions and other issues.

Duterte has sought China’s help by setting aside the thorny issue of territorial disputes.

A Chinese senior diplomat says Chinese President Xi Jinping and Philippine leader Rodrigo Duterte did not discuss whether China would allow Filipino fishermen to return to Scarborough Shoal, an outcome likely to disappoint the Southeast Asian country.

Scarborough Shoal is the fishing ground China seized in 2012 that is the crux of the China-Philippines territorial dispute. An international tribunal found the Philippines and China both retained traditional fishing rights in the area.

Before his trip to China, Duterte said he would ask Beijing to allow Filipino fishermen to again operate in the area.

Vice Minister Liu Zhenmin also says China will lift restrictions on imports of tropical fruit from the Philippines and also cancel a travel advisory that had discouraged Chinese tourists from going to the Philippines.

Earlier, President Rodrigo Duterte  announced that he is cutting ties with the United States, the Philippines’ long-time ally and trading partner.

Duterte announced the separation from the US “not only in economics, but also military” at a gathering of Chinese businessmen.

“In this venue, I announce my separation from the United States,” Duterte said in his speech.

Duterte earlier hinted at cutting ties with the United States, saying at one event that US President Barack Obama “can go to hell.” The president started to throw tirades against the US after it raised concerns over his anti-drug campaign, which has seen a rise in drug-related deaths.

By Rosette Adel (philstar.com) | Updated October 20, 2016 – 6:24pm

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