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PH ready to join China’s Silk Road initiative

PRESIDENT Duterte and partner Honeylet Avanceña and Chinese President Xi Jinping and wife Peng Liyuan (PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO)

PRESIDENT Duterte and partner Honeylet Avanceña and Chinese President Xi Jinping and wife Peng Liyuan (PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO)

BEIJING – The Philippines is ready to take part in the new Silk Road initiative led by China to help promote “inclusive growth and balanced development” that will benefit all.

In a statement, the Department of Foreign Affairs extended the country’s congratulations to Chinese President Xi Jinping on his “bold and fresh” international cooperation initiative, saying Manila looks forward to cooperating on “convergent priorities.”

“The Philippines listened with much interest to President Xi’s opening remarks. We note that he described the Belt and Road as a bridge for peace, a road to prosperity, a way to boost inclusive growth and balanced development, and to promote equality,” a statement from the DFA said.

“We share his view that we need a peaceful environment to achieve our developmental goals. We are looking forward to the One Belt, One Road initiative in promoting a prosperous and peaceful community of nations,” it added.

Xi earlier announced plans to invest billions of dollars to revive the ancient Silk Road and maritime trade routes. Various trade and infrastructure projects have been lined up to link China much to Asia, Europe, and Africa in a bid to promote economic development that is open, inclusive, and beneficial to all.

President Duterte reunited with two of his favorite allies while attending the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation here last night.

The President met Xi and Russian President Vladimir Putin during the welcome banquet hosted for the world leaders at the Great Hall of the People.

Duterte, clad in a blue suit, was accompanied by his partner, Honeylet Avanceña, who looked elegant in a long blue gown.

A live video feed by state-run CGTN showed the Philippine leader seated beside his idol Putin during the festive affair hosted by Xi.

“Both are popular. Powerhouse seated side by side includes (Indonesian President Joko) Widodo and Putin,” Special Assistant to the President Christopher Go said when asked about the seating arrangement.

In his previous remarks, Duterte openly declared his admiration for the leaders of China and Russia as he forged closer economic and investment ties with these countries. Duterte has decided to forge an independent foreign policy while seeking alliances with other nations on the principle of mutual sovereign respect and non-interference in internal affairs.

Duterte skipped the opening ceremony of the Belt and Road forum yesterday but joined other world leaders in the gala dinner. The last time Duterte met Xi and Putin was during the Asia-Pacific Economic cooperation summit in Peru last October.

Meanwhile, a special envoy of Duterte is pushing for an oil and gas exploration project among the Philippines, China, and Vietnam in the disputed South China Sea years after discovering the prospects for energy were “promising.”

Jose de Venecia Jr., the Philippines’ special envoy for intercultural dialogue, said the South China Sea could be converted into a “zone of friendship, commerce, and development” instead of just being a source of conflict among the concerned parties. (Genalyn D. Kabiling)