What Duterte accomplished in China

BEIJING, China – President Rodrigo Duterte’s state visit to China was marked at the beginning and in the middle by two powerful storms back home. But Duterte caused his own kind of storm in Beijing. 

On October 18, the Philippine President, tired from his Brunei trip, landed in China’s capital without much fanfare save for a trail of journalists. By his departure on October 21, the world’s headlines would blast his declaration of a “separation” from the United States, in favor of China and Russia.

In between, Duterte was given red carpet treatment by Chinese President Xi Jinping, had several meetings with Chinese companies, keynoted a business forum attended by Filipino and Chinese businessmen, and even had time to walk to a Peking duck restaurant in a busy shopping district. 

He was accompanied during his trip by several Cabinet secretaries and lawmakers. Businessmen representing 300 Filipino companies also joined some of his Beijing events. Two members of Duterte’s delegation garnered their own headlines: former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr and his sister, Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos.

Duterte visit won for the Philippines plenty of cooperation deals with the Chinese government, billions worth of business and financial deals, and billions worth of developmental assistance. 

There were also many Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) signed between government agencies and companies. But in some MOUs, it is emphasized that the document is not legally-binding and that the government is free to consider other companies for the project's implementation.

Though unquantifiable, restored diplomatic relations with China is a major milestone in his visit. He also set the stage for bilateral talks with the Asian giant on the prickly issue of the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) dispute.

Amid these accomplishments, he was unable to secure any concrete commitment from China to let Filipino fishermen fish in Scarborough Shoal (Panatag Shoal), supposedly traditional common fishing grounds for Chinese, Filipinos and Vietnamese.

But Duterte said he and Xi were able to discuss fishing rights in their one-on-one talk, a meeting that supposedly went overtime. He hinted that there may soon be developments on the thorny issue.

Here’s a list of what Duterte was able to accomplish in China: 

'Full recovery' of Philippines-China bilateral relations

Agreement with President Xi Jinping to discuss West Philippine Sea dispute through bilateral talks

Agreement with President Xi Jinping for both China and Philippines to exercise 'self-restraint' in conducting activities in the West Philippine Sea

$24 billion (P1.16 trillion) worth of business-to-business contracts ($15 billion or P724 billion) and public financing agreements ($9 billion or P434 billion)

Some of these deals are listed below: 

$9 billion (P433 billion) in soft loans for development projects or programs ($15 million or P724 million will go specifically to drug rehabilitation programs)

13 bilateral cooperation agreements with the Chinese government 

All the agreements are listed below:

Lifting of travel advisory for Chinese travelling to Philippines

Permits given back to 27 Philippine companies exporting tropical fruits

Agreement for China to open a consulate in Davao City

4 MOUs on infrastructure in former military bases


– Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.