China's president makes first visit to Philippines

Xi and his Philippine counterpart, Rodrigo Duterte, held a bilateral meeting, wherein they charted the course for the future of China-Philippines bilateral relations, had an in-depth exchange of views on regional and worldwide issues of common interest, and reached important consensus, according to the joint statement.

Filipino analyst Richard Heydarian said China's pledges induced Manila to "soft-pedal" on the South China Sea issue, but Beijing failed to hold up its end of the bargain.

Four members of the 10-nation bloc - Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam - along with China and Taiwan have overlapping claims in the South China Sea.

But the Foreign Secretary said he could lift the moratorium, but would need a go-signal from President Rodrigo Duterte.

Duterte has refused to immediately demand Chinese compliance with the ruling, which invalidated China's sweeping claims to the waters, where Beijing has transformed a string of disputed reefs into missile-protected island bases.

The Chinese leader, in a separate meeting with former President and now House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Senate President Vicente "Tito" Sotto III on Wednesday, vowed that the South China Sea will be a "sea of peace, friendship, and cooperation" between the Philippines and China. Just $5 a month.

Judging from his remarks, one can not rule out the possibility that Beijing and Hanoi may strive together for a win-win situation and stability in the South China Sea in the coming days.

"Otherwise, we can definitely conclude that there's really nothing much in the rhetoric and the Philippines has been taken for a ride", Heydarian said.

At ASEAN, Duterte had called on the U.S.to stop military drills near disputed areas, saying China is already "in possession" of it. Pence last week said the USA supports a "free and open" Indo-Pacific and "will continue to sail and fly wherever global law allows and our national interests demand".

The MOU was signed between Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs Teodoro Locsin Jr. and China's Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi in Manila.

The signing of the framework agreement was witnessed by Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping, who was in the Philippines for a state visit, Bloomberg reported, citing local television coverage.

Duterte has made a point of praising China effusively and confessing his "love" for Xi. The Philippines has yet to choose the company that will conduct the exploration. "But it does pave the way for the crafting of a program on how such joint ventures can happen in the future".

Locsin, who declared he drafted the document, said progress on the talks will depend on the Department of Energy that has the authority to lift the moratorium with the approval of President Rodrigo Duterte.

The senators' rebuke came as US think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies released new satellite images on November 20 that revealed China had installed a new platform on the Bombay Reef, an atoll in the disputed Paracel Islands chain of the South China Sea.

China had the lowest net trust rating among five countries in the same survey with -16, or 19 points lower than June's +35. For example, previous year China reportedly threatened to attack Vietnamese bases in the South China Sea unless Hanoi halted Spanish firm Repsol's drilling in the South China Sea. Some experts see joint development as a solution, while others worry that agreeing to it would legitimize the Chinese claim. Last year, Japan invested $600 million in the country, around 23 times more than China's $31 million the same year, according to domestic outlet The Philippine Star.

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