MANILA, Philippines — President Duterte will be leaving for China in the coming week to attend the Belt and Road forum where he might hold a bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

There is no reason for Duterte to cancel his trip despite the brickbats between Philippine and Chinese officials over activities around Pag-asa Island and the South China Sea, according to Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles.

“This meeting should push through,” Nograles said.

Duterte’s visit to Beijing comes after former foreign affairs secretary Albert del Rosario and former ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales filed a lawsuit against Xi before the International Criminal Court for destruction of the environment and livelihood of Filipino fishermen in the West Philippine Sea.

Recently, there has been a change of tune from Malacañang, especially Duterte, who has questioned the apparent incursions of Chinese vessels near Pag-asa Island.

Apart from attending the Belt and Road forum, Nograles said the members of the Philippine delegation are going to meet with their counterparts on the sidelines of the event.

“There will be side meetings by the (agriculture, finance and public works officials),” he said.

Boao Forum for Asia

Meanwhile, Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is spearheading the first Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) – dubbed as the Davos of Asia – in Manila today until tomorrow. 

The President will deliver the keynote speech as well as BFA secretary general Li Badong. 

Arroyo, who extended the invitation to the BFA to hold the conference here, is a member of the board of the BFA.

The BFA is dedicated to promoting Asian countries to achieve common development through the integration of the regional economy.

This year’s theme is Concerted Action for Common Development in the New Era. 

The event will bring together some of the country’s business leaders and their Chinese counterparts to explore the possibility of investing in both the Philippines and China and discuss other cooperation.

It will also foster closer ties and create goodwill between the Philippines and China, building on the momentum for cooperation created by Duterte and Xi during the state visit in November last year.

The conference will convene approximately 300 participants, among whom will be 100 business leaders from China, 100 business leaders from the Philippines and 100 executives from Chinese enterprises in the Philippines.

This article was originally published on on April 22, 2019.

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