Duterte trip to China eyed before end of 2016

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government is planning the possible visit of President Rodrigo Duterte to China before the end of 2016, months after Manila won a case against Beijing over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

Yasay confirmed this in an interview with CNN Philippines on Thursday, August 25.

Yasay was asked by CNN Philippines anchor Pia Hontiveros if the Philippine government is considering a presidential trip to China "before the end of the year."

"Yes, yes, this is something that we would like to push through," Yasay said.

Before the trip can take place, however, Yasay said that "there are certain things that have to be threshed out."

He explained, "We'd like to make sure that, for instance, the trip of the President, talking with the highest officials of China, will not be subject to any conditions."

"You don’t want to start off meeting with certain conditions to be met. That's something that we would like to discuss more thoroughly and clarify with China," he added.

Next envoy to China

He said the Philippine government is speaking with Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua about this possible trip.

Duterte is first scheduled to visit Southeast Asian countries, starting with Brunei, in September.

At the same time, Yasay said he has recommended to Duterte 3 possible people who can serve as Manila's new ambassador to Beijing.

The new ambassador will replace Erlinda Basilio, who got ill while in her post.

Yasay said he has shortlisted two career officials and one political appointee as ambassador to China. 

This comes as two issues affect relations between Manila and Beiing: the West Philippine Sea dispute and the illegal drug trade, which Duterte partly blames on Chinese nationals. – Rappler.com

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior reporter leading Rappler’s coverage of religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.

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