PH, China agree to elevate ties

China's Xi to make state visit to Spain next week

Filipino schoolchildren wave Philippine and Chinese flags as they line up the route for visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping in Manila on November 20, 2018.

Local media highlighted the signing of a memorandum of understanding on the development of oil and gas, which is highly beneficial, according to experts, for Manila and Beijing.

More than 300 protesters with placards reading "Hands off our land and seas" rallied in front of the Chinese Consulate in Manila.

The Chinese leader, in a separate meeting with former President and now House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Senate President Vicente "Tito" Sotto III on Wednesday, vowed that the South China Sea will be a "sea of peace, friendship, and cooperation" between the Philippines and China.

"If after Xi Jinping's visit, there's still no big move by China to invest in the Philippines, if China's militarisation and reclamation will just continue unabated, you're going to have a situation where Duterte will come under extreme pressure", he said. The administration of Duterte's predecessor, Benigno Aquino III, brought the disputes with China over the strategic waterway to worldwide arbitration and won, but China has ignored the outcome. "The Chinese draft also waives Philippine sovereign rights under the arbitral ruling which recognised that the Philippines has exclusive sovereign rights in its EEZ in the West Philippine Sea".

Xi earlier said he and Duterte had "friendly" and "productive" meeting on closer cooperation on trade and investments and infrastructure development. While Western governments have sharply criticized Duterte's brutal crackdown against illegal drugs, China has not.

Xi's 2-day state visit that ended yesterday is an opportunity for Duterte to show that "they are making some progress" after resetting ties that were strained by disputes in the South China Sea, Lim said. Both Xi and Duterte have often been in the crosshairs of human rights groups.

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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.

The Chinese president went on to commend Duterte for his leadership that parallels the development needs of the Filipino people.

Mr Duterte said there was "a deepening trust and confidence" between them and he and Mr Xi had discussed increasing trade and investment, and China's involvement in his signature US$180 billion (S$247 billion) Build, Build, Build infrastructure programme.

The ambitious program has been criticized by the United States as enticing poor nations into debt bondage and has warned it could compromise their independence.

A Social Weather Stations poll of 1,200 Filipinos released on the eve of Xi's visit showed 84 per cent felt it was wrong not to oppose China's militarisation of its manmade islands in the South China Sea.

The Chinese leader offered similarly sweeping remarks, saying: "My visit will be a milestone in the history of exchange between our two counties". "We have formed, together with the Chinese government, a bilateral consultation mechanism as an important venue in amicably resolving territorial disputes and to strengthen the momentum of cooperation in matters of common interest, such as the protection of our fishermen", he added.

Xi's trip has taken on even greater significance given it comes shortly after the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit ended without a joint statement for the first time, due to simmering U.S.

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