President Rodrigo Roa Duterte arrived here on Wednesday, April 24, to participate in the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, cementing the country’s dedication to strengthen connectivity and economic integration by working with regional partners.
President Duterte’s plane touched down at the Beijing International Airport at 7:40 p.m.
The President and his Partner Cielito “Honeylet” Avanceña and daughter Veronica Duterte were received by Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua and Philippine Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China Jose Santiago Sta. Romana.
“The President’s participation reaffirms the Philippines’ commitment to work with partners in the region to further enhance regional connectivity and economic integration in order to advance the country’s development agenda and sustain regional growth and development,” the departure statement stated.
President Duterte will join other world leaders and heads of international organisations in the forum “to discuss, among others, how to boost connectivity, further strengthen policy synergy and build closer partnerships, and promote green and sustainable development.”
Also, the gathering is an opportunity for the Philippines “to explore synergies on connectivity initiatives,” including projects under the Belt and Road Initiative, and the country’s Build, Build, Build and other development programs.
The members of the President’s official delegation include Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, Public Works Secretary Mark Villar, Education Secretary Leonor Briones, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr., and Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo.
Also part of the official delegation are Commission on Higher Education Chairman J. Prospero De Vera III, Information and Communications Technology Acting Secretary Eliseo Rio Jr., Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission Chairman Dante Jimenez, Rep. Weslie Gatchalian Social Security System President and CEO Aurora Cruz Ignacio, Bases Conversion and Development Authority head Vivencio Dizon, Special Envoy to the People’s Republic of China Fernando Borja, Special Envoy to the People’s Republic of China Wallie Lee, and Special Envoy to the People’s Republic of China Ramon Tulfo.
On Thursday, the President will meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in separate bilateral meetings “to take stock of key developments in bilateral relations and regional affairs.”
After the meeting, the Chinese Premier will host a dinner for the President.
President Duterte is one of the select leaders who will meet President Xi and Premier Li separately and will be honoured with a dinner.
During his four-day visit here, the President will likewise meet with Filipino and Chinese business leaders “to explore ways of further enhancing two-way trade and investments.”
In a media interview, Ambassador Sta. Romana explained that the Belt and Road forum offers an international platform for economic cooperation and regional connectivity.
The envoy stated that the participation of President Duterte in the forum allows him to seek new economic opportunities and new markets for the Philippines.
“So in the end, it is how to boost Build, Build, Build, how to boost economic development in the Philippines, and how in the end to improve the living standards of the people in the Philippines. That is the ultimate goal,” the envoy said.
At the same time, the President will have a chance to address the forum and to present the Philippine perspective on regional connectivity.
“The key really is the idea of connectivity. And this is what has been the factor why the President is attending. As you know, we start on the basis of our national interest and we really start from the principle of convergence and synergy,” he said.
“We see that there is a convergence in terms of the Philippines’ Build, Build, Build program and the Belt and Road initiative’s focus on connectivity and infrastructure cooperation,” he added.
“So it is in this convergence that we try to seek synergy and to provide an impetus that will promote our economic interest, that will boost our economic development, and ultimately that will bring benefits to the Filipino people,” he said.