Rodrigo Duterte’s upcoming visit to China from August 28 to September 1 was repeated three times before since he assumed presidency in 2016. It will also be another meeting Chinese President Xi Jinping, whom he met at least eight times.
Critics have been on edge about Duterte’s trips to China as it is his most frequented country so far despite his lack of backbone in the territorial sea row.
In just two years, Duterte has visited China four times. Each time, Duterte and his large retinue of big business friends, politicians and family members have received imperial treatment.
— Samuel Guerrero (@cmcnpasorsogon) August 26, 2019
Based on reports, Duterte and his Chinese counterpart will hold a bilateral meeting to discuss accomplishments under their comprehensive strategic cooperation agreement since Xi visited the Philippines last November.
He will hold a meeting with Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan on further strengthening relations between the two countries.
The previous plan to visit the Fujian province, however, will be postponed, an official from the foreign affairs agency said.
The president was supposed to attend the inauguration of a school in Fujian Normal University named after his mother Soledad.
Similar to Duterte, his close ally and former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo also frequented China more than other countries. She visited the Southeast Asian neighbor at least nine times.
Duterte’s China visits
Duterte made his first state visit to China in October 2016 to reinforce the friendship of the two countries.
At least 400 big business tycoons, including Lucio Tan and son Michael Tan of the Lucio Tan group, and Hans Sy of the SM group joined the presidential delegation in hopes of enhancing trade and investment ties with China.
However, the grave issue over China’s encroachments and militarized activities in the West Philippine Sea took a backseat.
This was also the time Duterte made a controversial comment of separating from the Philippines’ long-time ally, the United States and realigning with China instead.
He made this remark months after The Hague ruled in favor of the Philippines’ entitlements in the West Philippine Sea.
The Philippines was one of the 27 countries invited by Xi to attend China’s Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation from May 13 to 15 of that year.
According to a Foreign Affairs official, the topics discussed during the forum include infrastructure connectivity, economic and trade cooperation and industrial investment.
Following that trip, the two leaders signed an agreement for a P3.6-billion grant for the construction of two bridges in Pasig River and drug rehabilitation centers in Mindanao.
So far, the prospect bridges, namely, the Binondo-Intramuros bridge and the Estrella-Pantaleon bridge, have not seen the light of day due to the cultural properties these will damage and the traffic congestion construction will cause.
The Pasig River bridges were part of the administration’s ambitious “Build Build Build” program.
Duterte attended another forum in China, the Boao Forum for Asia, in April 2018.
Similar to the previous event he attended, this international forum focused on sealing investment deals or partnerships between local firms and Chinese companies.
He also mentioned the benefits of the “Build” program during his speech.
The Boao Forum for Asia is a non-profit organization to promote economic integration in Asia. It has currently 29 member states, including the Philippines.
The first conference was held in February 2001.
Duterte went to China last April to attend the second Belt and Road Forum, the grand plan to link China with the continents of Africa, Europe and the rest of Asia through a network of ports, railways and other infrastructures.
The Department of Foreign Affairs also said that at least five agreements in the areas of education, anti-corruption, official development assistance, and drug rehabilitation were also scheduled to happen during the meeting with Xi and Chinese Premier Li Kequiang.
Moreover, the president also signed the memorandum of agreement on cooperation for this effort.