August 23, 2019
President Rodrigo Duterte would no longer proceed to Fujian during his upcoming trip to China later this month.
In a pre-departure press briefing on Friday in Malacañang, Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Meynardo Montealegre said Duterte's fifth visit to China upon the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping will be on August 28 to September 1.
Aside from Beijing where he and Xi will conduct a bilateral meeting and witness the signing of a number of cooperative bilateral documents and memoranda of understanding, Duterte will also travel to Guangzhou to join the Filipinos in supporting Gilas Pilipinas as they compete at the FIBA World Cup, he said.
"President Duterte will personally cheer for Gilas Pilipinas in our scheduled game against the Italian team on 31 August 2019," he said.
Asked why there was no schedule of Duterte's visit to Fujian, he said, "Not in the schedule right now. It’s postponed to a more appropriate time."
Duterte, in an earlier speech, announced that he would go to Fujian to lead the unveiling of a new school building in a university there which was named after his mother, Soledad.
Robert Borje, chief of Presidential Protocol, explained that Duterte' schedule was a work in progress..
"Sometimes the window shortens for reasons that are maybe logistical in nature. Sometimes it's substantive, sometimes it's also due to domestic issues," he explained.
"But for this particular visit, there was a plan and then the recommendation now is to move it at a later date because it's more appropriate to be done at a later date and not at this particular time," he said.
"But as of this time, it’s really more logistical rather than those issues that you are implying," he added when further pressed on the reason for halting the Fujian trip.
Duterte has said the top agenda of his trip to China would be to bring up the favorable arbitral ruling on the disputed South China Sea.
But China, which has been claiming almost the entire South China Sea has remained firm that it would not honor the award to the Philippines.
During Duterte's first visit to China in 2016, Xi prevented Duterte from bringing up the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling.
In the coming bilateral meeting between Duterte and and Xi, the two leaders will discuss the accomplishments as well as the shared goals of the Philippines and China under the Comprehensive Strategic Cooperation, Montealegre said.
Before Duterte watch Gilas Pilipinas, he will receive first Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan in a courtesy call on him in Guangdong.
Wang is set to accompany Duterte in watching the game between the Philippines and Italy. Celerina Monte/DMS
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