Duterte to sign education science agreements during China visit

President Rodrigo R. Duterte is expected to close agreements on education, science and technology, and economic and social development during his China visit next week, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said.

Mr. Duterte is set to leave on Aug. 28 for his fifth visit to China, upon the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping. The visit runs until Sept. 1, a day earlier than initially planned.

“There are several agreements that are in the pipeline. Some of them are in the final stages of vetting but I cannot give you specific number. It pertains to education, science and technology, and… economic and social development. So those are the agreements,” Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Meynardo L.B. Montealegre said in a televised briefing in Malacañang Friday.

Mr. Montealegre, however, did not disussn whether the President will raise issues on the arbitral ruling over the West Philippine Sea in his meeting with his Chinese counterpart.

“That’s the President’s prerogative to discuss the particular issue. At the same time, he already made his pronouncement on this particular matter. So it’s the President’s call to discuss this specific issue,” he said. Mr Duterte earlier said he plans to invoke the July 2016 ruling that affirmed Philippine claims over the WPS.

The Palace earlier announced the trip will last until Sept. 2, but the DFA said the President will no longer visit Fujian province and instead fly back to the Philippines on Sept. 1.

Mr. Duterte will be meeting with Mr. Xi on Aug. 29. This will be his 8th bilateral meeting with the Chinese President.

On Aug. 30, he will be attending a business forum in Beijing, which will be led by the Department of Trade and Industry. He will then visit Guangzhou, where he will be joined by the Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan, in supporting the Philippine men’s basketball team competing at the FIBA World Cup..

“The President and Vice President Wang are expected to discuss ways to strengthen cooperation in anti-cooperation efforts, increase trade and investment and deepen the friendship between our countrymen and the people of Guangdong,” Mr. Montealegre also said.

Mr. Duterte had been due to visit Fujian province to inaugurate a building constructed in honor of his mother.

“Not in the schedule right now. It’s postponed to a more appropriate time,” Mr. Montealegre said. — Charmaine A. Tadalan

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