MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Wednesday reported a productive bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing that focused on soft infrastructure, climate change, renewable energy, people-to-people ties and agricultural cooperation that include the so-called “durian protocol.”
“It has been a very wide-ranging discussion… the meeting ran very long, and that’s why I’m actually very optimistic because President Xi seemed to be genuinely interested in all of these issues and finding a way to move forward to again strengthen the relationship between China and the Philippines. I’m quite gratified that we had made a good start,” Marcos said in an interview.
The Asian leaders talked “at great length” about climate change, which Marcos described as “a subject that we cannot leave alone or it will come back to haunt us in the future.”
The President said there was also an offer of so-called “soft infrastructure” in terms of digitalization of government bureaucracy as well as improving connectivity across the country.
“We had a very fruitful exchange of ideas and beginnings of a plan for moving forward… And we covered so many subjects, much more than as usual for these very formal meetings. We talked about the trade imbalance between our country and China and what we can do to remedy this,” he said.
Marcos said the meeting yielded a “durian protocol,” pointing to an agreement for exporting durian to China.
Manila and Beijing agreed on a protocol of phytosanitary requirements for the export of fresh durians from the Philippines to China between the Department of Agriculture (DA) and China’s General Administration of Customs.
“Because they are opening their trade to imports of durian and other agricultural products from the Philippines so that we can redress the imbalance in our imports and exports from China,” Marcos said.
The two leaders also discussed what they could do “to move forward, to avoid any possible mistakes, misunderstandings that could trigger a bigger problem than what we already have.”
“And I was very clear in trying to talk about the plight of our fishermen. And the President (Xi) promised that we would find a compromise and find a solution that will be beneficial, so that our fishermen might be able to fish again in their natural fishing grounds,” President Marcos pointed out.
The President also spoke about his meeting with Chinese Premier Li Kequiang and National Congress of the People’s Republic of China chairman Li Zhanshu.
“I met with the Premier, Premier Li, who I had met before in Cambodia. And we continued the discussions that we began there, which were essentially about the strengthening again of relationships between China and the Philippines,” Marcos said.
The Philippines and China earlier inked 14 bilateral agreements on Wednesday during President Marcos’ state visit to China, including deals on agriculture, infrastructure, development cooperation, maritime security, and tourism, among others. (PNA)