MANILA - Chinese President Xi Jinping will make his first visit to the Philippines under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte in November, Malacañang said Tuesday.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Xi will fly to the Philippines in November after the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders’ meeting in Papua New Guinea.
Roque made the announcement after the bilateral meeting between Duterte and Xi on the sidelines of the Boao Forum for Asia.
Duterte first invited Xi to visit the Philippines during his state visit to China in October 2016, something which the Chinese leader “accepted with pleasure.”
The President renewed his invitation to Xi on the sidelines of the APEC leaders’ meeting in Lima, Peru last November 2016.
Xi made his last visit to the Philippines in November 2015, also to attend the APEC leaders’ meeting. The Philippine president at that time was Benigno Aquino III, who hailed China to a United Nations-backed arbitral tribunal over the South China Sea dispute and won.
Duterte has opted to downplay the Philippines’ maritime dispute with China in pursuit of improved economic ties with Asia’s second largest economy.
The President, nonetheless, said despite his government’s rapprochement with China, he will never surrender the country’s claims to the sea and will bring up at the appropriate time Manila’s arbitration victory against Beijing. - report from Pia Gutierrez, ABS-CBN News