Locsin: PH, China to discuss ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ during Xi’s visit

FILE PHOTO: (L-R) President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping | PCOO

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte is set to meet with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping when the latter visits the country this month.

According to Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Locsin, the two leaders will discuss the Philippines’ participation in China’s Belt and Road Initiative and a memorandum of understanding will be signed during Xi’s visit.

Locsin added in a message that this is Xi’s priority because the Philippines is the only ASEAN country that has yet to join the initiative aimed at linking Southeast Asia and South Pacific through massive infrastructure projects with multi-billion dollar fund earmarked by the Asian power.

The Chinese president is expected to visit the country this month after the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders’ meeting in Papua New Guinea.

The DFA secretary, meanwhile, denied earlier reports that a deal on joint oil and energy exploration in disputed territories in the West Philippine Sea will be signed between the Philippines and China during Xi’s visit.

This is because the proposed deal is still being studied according to Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, and the president has yet to approve the bid to explore the Service Contract No. 57 situated west of Calamian Islands in northwest Palawan.

Cusi also clarified that the said area is not included in the hotly contested parts of the West Philippine Sea.

“Service Contract No. 57 and this is an issue of farming-in for a company to be because that service contract is owned by PNOC-EC and then needed the partner to pursue further exploration and exploitation if when the time comes. So they have been looking for partners and one partner that they have shown that interest is the CNOOC. So, for them to farm-in because it has been farming-in is not allowed,” said Department of Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi.

Both Cusi and Locsin admit they have no idea whether Duterte and Xi will discuss the proposed joint oil exploration deal in the West Philippine Sea during their meeting. — Rosalie Coz | UNTV News & Rescue

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