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HOW many Chinese-Filipino businessmen will be flying to Beijing, not because Beijing is there but because President Duterte is?

As of Oct. 15 Saturday noon, 417 Chinoys were turning cartwheels to be on the trip that starts today. They have every intention of being seen in China, and seen supporting the two Presidents, Xi Jinping of China and Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, as well as participating in business forums and maybe cashing in on a deal or two on the side, but will there be enough plane seats and hotel rooms for all of them?

They will not be deterred by the finiteness of flight and lodging arrangements. Let us wish them well. Beijing is a huge city, and being successful entrepreneurs and dedicated merchants, they will find ways (like Tessie Sy-Coson’s bank).

The exodus of Chinoys is somehow, but only somehow, matched by the size of the official Philippine delegation. Asked how many government officials will be with the presidential party, Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua said: “In the beginning it was 25, then it became 50, now I hear it is 100.”

Even before ETD, the good news of the visit has spread far and wide, enough to sound like it’s a fait accompli. To quote Ambassador Zhao:

“We want more” tropical fruits, specially dragonfruit. “Your bananas comprise 82 percent and your pineapples 70 percent of our imports.”

“Fish is a big import market, China wants high-end fish like bangus.”

“Drugs are also a serious problem in China, punishable by death,” thus a memorandum of understanding to be signed by the Philippine and Chinese police organizations for cooperation in combating the menace.

“Several MOUs are being finalized for the full resumption of bilateral mechanisms in defense, agriculture, aquaculture, tourism.” In addition, a “dramatic increase in infrastructure and investment” through soft loans from the Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank, of which the Philippines is a founding member. “Do it now!” the ambassador urged, referring to payment of a US$100 million founder’s fee.

“Ten million Chinese tour Thailand every year; only 450,000 come to the Philippines. We will make it one million this year, by the end of the year.” (Jullie Y. Daza)