President Rodrigo Duterte is set to visit China from October 18 to 21, as confirmed by a press release by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) this Wednesday, October 12. This president’s first state visit to China is now being strongly considered as a key factor for the speed up of the construction of the first-ever bullet train in the Philippines.
Incidentally, the DFA confirmation came along as Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Chairman Martin Diño announced that a Chinese company will build the bullet train that will travel from Subic, Zambales to Clark, Pampanga, and vice versa. This ambitious project will be carried out through a public-private partnership (PPP) under the Duterte administration.
Specific details of the agenda of President Duterte’s visit to China were not announced. But because as at least 400 businessmen are set to join the president in his trip, it can be expected to increase the ties between China and Philippines. The two governments are also expected to discuss the ongoing dispute over territorial claims in the South China Sea.
Nevertheless, Chairman Diño noted that the Clark-Subic bullet train will be also be discussed during the China trip. And although he did not disclose the name of the Chinese company and other details of the project, he said that he expects President Duterte to update the public once he comes back to the country.
In line with this, we asked political analyst and UP Diliman professor Lauro dela Cuesta if President Duterte’s China visit will help speed up the construction of the bullet train. “Definitely yes, especially that the president is very vocal about his objective to end the 65 years of military-ties with the US this year, and China is very happy about it.” He said.
However, Dela Cuesta said that the China visit is also expected to hurt the US. Meanwhile, President Duterte will also visit Brunei on October 16 before flying to China. This Brunei trip was earlier scheduled last September 4 but was postponed because of the Davao City bombing. After China, the president is also set to visit Japan from October 25 to 27.