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Duterte to attend Belt and Road summit in China

MANILA, Philippines – For the second time, President Rodrigo Duterte will fly to China, this time to attend the One Belt, One Road Summit to be held in May.

Duterte himself announced his attendance to the summit on Friday, March 24. 

"I'm going there, I was invited by the President himself, 'yung the One Belt, One Road. It's a very ambitious project of China," he said during the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Inc (FFCCCII) Biennial Convention in Pasay City.

The "One Belt, One Road" or Belt and Road Initiative refers to China's plan to revive the ancient silk road trading route that would link Asian markets with economic circles in Europe.

This "trade and infrastructure network" is seen as the center of China's "economic diplomacy" and is the brainchild of Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The Philippines' participation in the initiative was announced and welcomed by China during Duterte's state visit last October 2016.

The summit is expected to take place from May 14 to 15, FFCCCII President Angel Ngu told Rappler. He is also attending the event.

Ngu said Duterte's second time to visit China is also likely an opportunity for him and his delegation to affirm business deals, both private and public, which were agreed upon during the October state visit.

At least two other China trips are being planned for the President, he added.

The Duterte administration has prioritized warmer ties with China as among its strategies to improve the Philippine economy and infrastructure.

The latest promise from China announced by the President is the supposed planned construction of two bridges in Pasig River.

China has promised to provide loans and grants for key infrastructure projects, including railways.

Improved economic cooperation between the two countries comes amidst reports of China's plan to build structures on Panatag Shoal (Scarborough Shoal) in the West Philippine Sea, and its interest in Benham Rise in the Pacific Ocean.

But China, seeking to honor its revived friendship with the Philippines, denied it has plans to build on Panatag Shoal.

The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs has asked the Asian giant to explain the Chinese survey ship spotted in Benham Rise last year. – 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.

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