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Duterte says APEC meeting ‘productive,’ renews ties with China, Russia

President Rodrigo Duterte arrived in the country on Sunday from the Asia Pacific Economic Leaders’ (APEC) Summit in Vietnam where world leaders have agreed to work for free and open market and investment in order to achieve quality and innovative growth.

“Connectivity, the internet and digital economy, public-private partnerships, and the other inclusion of MSMEs (micro, small and medium enterprises) in global value chains were some of the salient points and shared priorities of economies in the Asia-Pacific region,” the President said in his arrival speech at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2.

Duterte discussed with fellow leaders the importance of inclusive growth and the need to provide MSMEs with the opportunities to grow and become catalysts for national development.

He said that in order for small and medium businesses to grow, the Philippines must focus on stamping out corruption, red tape as well as address illegal drugs and security.

“I need peace in my country and I need to get rid of corruption,” the President said. “We have come up with the gamut of so many things there, including in business.”

He said the government would focus on educating Filipino school children about cyberspace and digital communications, and increase infrastructure spending to realize the “Golden Age of Infrastructure” that will enhance mobility and interconnectivity.

Duterte also stressed the need to strengthen food security by ensuring enough local food for the people considering the increasing population.

At the same time, Duterte spoke of solidifying the country’s diplomatic relations with major powers such as China and Russia.

He considered his bilateral meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin as the “most productive” part of his trip to Da Nang.The President first met with Putin on the sidelines of the AELM, where the Russian leader vowed to support the country’s fight against terrorism which is a common challenge for both countries.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte greets Russian President Vladimir Putin before the start of their bilateral meeting at the Vinpearl Da Nang Resort and Villas in Da Nang City, Vietnam on November 10, 2017. Malacanang Photo

He also met with President Xi Jinping to thank China for its “crucial help” in resolving the Marawi siege.

“I see a very bright future for our relationship. Nothing to do with the military. I have stated before and I was not lying, I would not entertain talks about military or anything except that I had to thank Mr. Xi Jinping for the timely and crucial help that he extended to our country when we were fighting the siege of Marawi,” he said.

 

Duterte said the issue of the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea was discussed. He said the Chinese President was willing to hold a summit or a multilateral dialogue to tackle this delicate issue affecting the region.

“President Xi Jinping mentioned about a summit or a meeting, multilateral only to talk about the rules of conduct. It has nothing to do with sovereignty,” he said.

He added that China made the assurance that it would not impede the freedom of navigation in the disputed sea.

He expressed confidence that the tensions in the South China Sea would not escalate into a war, adding that China would not put the lives of its own people in danger.

“He knows that if he goes to war, everything will blow up. He acknowledged that war cannot be promoted by anybody, but it would only mean destruction for all of us,” he said.

“And I believe him because, like me, he’s worried about the health and the problem of his countrymen,” he added.

The two leaders also discussed the North Korea issue. “At this time when everybody has in his pocket a large number of nuclear arms, China, America, Russia, Iran, North Korea, it is not a good time to talk about the quarrel,” said the President.

Duterte assured President Xi that his friendship with him would remain “warm and robust.”

“I was also given again an invitation to go back to China whether as a friend, official, not official visits,” he said. #