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Beijing puts ‘high importance’ on PBBM’s state visit to China

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is the first world leader to be welcomed by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2023—a sign of the “high importance” accorded by both Manila and Beijing to bilateral relations, according to Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin.

“President Marcos will be the first foreign head of state China will receive in the new year,” Wang said in a press briefing in Beijing.

“This will be President Marcos’s first visit to China after taking office and his first official visit to a non-ASEAN country. It fully demonstrates the high importance China and the Philippines attach to bilateral relations,” he added.

Wang said the bilateral meeting between the two leaders during Mr. Marcos’ three-day state visit from Jan. 3 to 5 will allow them to” jointly chart the course forward for our relationship.”

“Leaders of the two sides will have in-depth exchanges of views on bilateral relations and regional and international issues of mutual interest,” he said.

Earlier, the Department of Foreign Affairs said China and the Philippines are expected to sign an agreement to prevent “miscalculations and miscommunication” in the country’s exclusive economic zone in the West Philippine Sea.

“To avoid miscalculations and miscommunications in the West Philippine Sea, both sides have agreed to sign an agreement establishing direct communication between the foreign ministries of both countries at various levels and that is expected to be signed by [Foreign Affairs] Secretary [Enrique] Manalo and his counterpart State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi during the visit,” DFA Assistant Secretary Nathaniel Imperial said.

“We also plan to renew our participation in the Belt and Road Initiative of China, which we believe complements the infrastructure program of the administration,” he added.

Imperial said the agreement to set up direct communications would be one of 10 to 14 deals to be signed during the President’s state visit.

Imperial said these agreements represent cooperation in a broad range of areas which include trade and investments, agriculture, renewable energy, infrastructure, development cooperation, people-to-people ties, and maritime security cooperation.

Other deals that are expected to be signed include a memorandum of understanding on digital cooperation; a framework agreement for the three priority bridges crossing Pasig-Marikina River and Manggahan Floodway Bridges Construction Project; an agreement on tourism cooperation; and the renewal of the agreement on the Philippines’ participation on the Belt and Road initiative of China.

Imperial said the Philippines is also looking at possible grants from China amounting to 1.5 billion renminbi (RMB).

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