A state visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to the Philippines this month heralds more development aid and progress on joint undersea fuel exploration for a host country that’s in the midst of economic change.
The Chinese president will visit for the first time since the election of his Philippine counterpart Rodrigo Duterte, who surprised the West and much of his population after taking office in 2016 by improving ties with China. Beijing and Manila had bitterly contested sovereignty over parts of the South China Sea before then.
As the two sides normally avoid talking about the maritime dispute now, the leaders are expected to focus on how China can help the Philippines build railways, bridges and other infrastructure, analysts say. Those projects fall under Duterte’s five-year, $169 billion “Build, Build, Build” policy.
The two leaders could also announce progress as well on joint exploration for fuel under the South China Sea, some scholars believe.
“The two governments will be signing a lot of agreements, particularly in terms of infrastructure to support the ‘Build, Build, Build’ policy of the Philippine government and then other agreements like the possibility of joint exploration,” said Maria Ela Atienza, political science professor at University of the Philippines Diliman.
Source : VOA