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China's Xi Jinping pays its first visit to the Philippines

(MANILA, Philippines) – China President Xi Jinping received a red carpet on the Philippines on Tuesday when he paid his…

(MANILA, Philippines) – China President Xi Jinping received a red carpet on the Philippines on Tuesday when he paid his first visit to the US agreement with infrastructure loan deals and new agreements to prevent conflicts and possibly explore for oil and gas in the disputed southern Chinese sea.

Xi was met by senior officials as a military brass band played in Manila, the last stop in a three-nation swing through Asia where he offers infrastructure loans and help and fight free trade in a rivalry for influence with the United States.

Classes were interrupted in Manila and thousands of police were deployed to secure the Xi visit, as the Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte once called “a great president.” More than 300 demonstrators with posters that read “Philippines not for sale” and “Hands outside our country and sea” gathered in front of the Chinese Consulate in Manila.

Xis visit to the Philippines is the first of a Chinese president for 1

3 years.

“We have opened the door to friendship and cooperation … giving real benefits to our people and contributing to regional peace, stability and prosperity,” Xi said in a statement issued after his arrival.

Beijing’s relations with Manila stagnated over long-term territorial rifts in the South China Sea until the Duterte won the presidency in mid 2016 and rebuilt the ties with China, while the US security policy often plagued a dramatic pivot. The administration of Dutert’s predecessor, Benigno Aquino III, settled disputes with China across the strategic waterway to international arbitration and water, but China has ignored the outcome.

Duterte has refused to immediately demand Chinese agreement with the landmark government, which void China’s sweeping statements about the water, where Beijing has transformed a series of controversial reefs into missile-protected island bases.

Dutert’s approach has promoted a new era of warming relations with the Asian economic power with which he has sought trade and investment, infrastructure funding and weapons to fight rebel. While Western governments have strongly criticized Dutert’s brutal insurgency against illegal drugs, China is not. Both Xi and Duterte have often been in war crimes of human rights groups.

Following a wreath ceremony at the monument of the Philippine national hero Jose Rizal in a Manila bathing park shot off by the police, Xi and his following will meet Duterte and top Philippine officials later on Tuesday at the nearby Malacan presidential palace.

Two Philippine officials told the Associated Press on Tuesday that Dutert’s administration would probably sign a Memorandum of Understanding to support Beijing’s “Belt and Road Initiative”, an ambitious infrastructure loan program criticized by the United States as endangering debtors to commit and endangered their independence.

Xi has denied that the Chinese loans could lead to “foreign debt trap”.

The Philippine government is unlikely to immediately join proposals for oil and gas exploration in disputed waters but can sign agreements “to explore maritime cooperation” and set up a committee and a working group to speed up calls that can lead to a decision about joint hunting for deficits of fuel, said the Philippine officials who spoke on terms of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the exact problem.

China has sought a so-called “maritime and air connection mechanism”, an arrangement for both countries forces to coordinate their naval and aircraft operations to prevent “incidents” in the contested waters, but the proposal has opposed the Philippine Defense Trustees, officials said.

Philippine nationalists have warned that an agreement that could undermine Philippines’s internationally recognized exclusive rights to fish and exploit resources within a 200-mile stretch of water from the coast of the country would violate the Philippine constitution.

“The Philippines should not waive our sovereign rights as confirmed by the arbitration process,” said Supreme C ourt Senior Associated Justice Antonio Carpio, who has conducted extensive studies on territorial conflicts.

Apart from their trade disputes, China and the United States have broken across the South China Sea. Chinese officials have asked Washington to back from what they say is a purely Asian dispute, but the United States has promised to maintain a presence in the water where it has no claims but has promised to continue the shipping patrols to promote the freedom to navigate and transfer Pride Chinese warnings.

“We continue to fly and sail wherever international law allows and our national interests require harassment will only strengthen our determination. We will not change the course,” said US Vice President Mike Pence at a Papua New Guinea Summit attended by leader of Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation, including Xi.

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