By Genalyn Kabiling
BEIJING — President Duterte has arrived in Beijing, China for a four-day visit amid cold and rainy weather, making his fourth visit to the Asian giant since 2016.
The President, taking a private jet to Beijing, is scheduled to attend the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, hold bilateral talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping, and meet the Chinese business community during his Beijing trip.
Duterte was welcomed by Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua and Philippine Ambassador to China Jose Santiago Sta. Romana upon arrival at the airport. Accompanying the President to Beijing is his common-law wife Honeylet Avanceña and daughter Veronica.
According to Ambassador Sta. Romana, the Belt, and Road Forum is an opportunity for the President to present the country’s perspective on economic development and regional cooperation.
“It’s also an opportunity for the Philippines to seek business, economic opportunities, new outlets for markets for our exports, new sources of foreign investment,” he told reporters here Wednesday.
“We see that there is a convergence in terms of the Philippines’ Build, Build, Build program and the Belt and Road initiative’s focus on connectivity and infrastructure cooperation,’ he added.
In this convergence, he said the country would have the chance “to seek synergy and to provide an impetus that will promote our economic interest, that will boost our economic development, and ultimately that will bring benefits to the Filipino people.”
Before attending the Belt and Road summit this Friday, the President is scheduled to hold separate bilateral meetings with Xi and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Thursday.
Premier Li is also scheduled to host dinner for President Duterte Thursday night.
“The two leaders usually do a general review of the situation of the bilateral relationship including the situation of the South China Sea and our concerns in the West Philippine Sea,” Sta. Romana said about the upcoming meeting between Duterte and Xi.
The two leaders are also expected to tackle ways to develop bilateral relation in the areas of defense, security, economy, and development as well as discuss important regional and international issues.
The President’s meetings with the Chinese leaders will take place on the heels of the Philippine government’s protest of the reported presence of more than 200 Chinese vessels near Pag-asa Island.
On Friday, the President will attend the opening ceremony of the Belt and Road summit and attend two high-level meetings at the China National Convention Center.
He is also scheduled to meet with Chinese conglomerates and witness the signing of business agreements on the same day.
On Saturday, the President is expected to be one of the key speakers at the leaders’ roundtable session before heading back home.
The members of the President’s delegation include Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, Public Works Secretary Mark Villar, Education Secretary Leonor Briones, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, Socioeconomic planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr., acting Information and Communications Technology Secretary Eliseo Rio, and Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo.
Other members of the President’s party are Commission on Higher Education chair Prospero De Vera, Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission chair Dante Jimenez, Rep. Weslie Gatchalian, Social Security System president Aurora Ignacio, Bases Conversion and Development Authority head Vivencio Dizon, as well as Special Envoys to China Fernando Borja, Wallie Lee and Ramon Tulfo.