Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is sending a cabinet-level delegation to Beijing this week to meet with China’s Vice Premier Wang Yang and other top Chinese officials to discuss investment deals and his country’s chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) this year.
The Jan. 23-24 trip includes the country’s finance, budget, economic, public works and transport ministers, according to a statement from the Department of Finance on Sunday, Reuters reports.
The visit comes three months after Duterte visited Beijing to pave the way for what he called a new commercial alliance. He has increased his overtures to China since assuming office last year while berating traditional ally the United States, a sharp change in Philippine foreign policy.
The Beijing mission to court China and tap loans and business follows Duterte’s “pro-Filipino” policy aimed at reducing the reliance on a U.S. that he says he has lost faith in.
Duterte will make a second China visit in May for a bilateral summit, China’s Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin said after meeting with him in Manila last week. That meeting was just days after Duterte’s meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Meetings during the visit will also discuss the Philippines’ chairmanship of the 10-member ASEAN this year, the Department of Finance said in a statement, without elaborating.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay said on Jan. 11 that he was confident a code of conduct in the South China Sea between ASEAN and China could be finished by mid-2017. Still, the Philippines did file a diplomatic protest with China over its installation last year of anti-aircraft and anti-missile systems on its man-made islands in the disputed waters.
At this week’s meeting, Philippine and Chinese officials will flesh out some US$15 billion worth of investment pledges that China committed to Manila during Duterte’s visit in October, the Department of Finance said.
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