MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte had a fruitful and productive participation in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-related summits held in Singapore, Malacañang announced on Wednesday.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Duterte attended the 21st ASEAN-China Summit to represent the Philippines as the new Country Coordinator for the ASEAN-China Dialogue Relations.
Panelo said Duterte underscored that ASEAN and China are committed to the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties (DOC) and the expeditious conclusion of an effective Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC).
“He assured that the Philippines will continue to work for the early conclusion of an effective and substantive COC,” Panelo said.
Duterte also reaffirmed the need for West Philippine Sea claimant countries to enhance mutual trust and confidence, exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities, prevent actions that may further complicate the situation, and pursue peaceful resolution of disputes in accordance with international law.
The Filipino leader also attended the 3rd ASEAN-Russia Summit where he emphasized the need for closer links between ASEAN’s and Russia’s security agencies to address common security challenges.
Panelo said Duterte welcomed expanding cooperation in combating non-traditional security threats such as international terrorism, violent extremism and transnational crimes, vowing to collaborate more with Russia on the security and use of information and communication technology.
Duterte was also present in the 21st ASEAN-Japan Summit where he took the opportunity to express his gratitude to Japan for its solidarity and offer of assistance during Typhoon Ompong.
Panelo said Duterte emphasized that greater ASEAN-Japan collaboration should be done on the area of climate change and disaster resilience.
“In the same occasion, the President noted greater security cooperation between ASEAN and Japan in counter-terrorism and a wider support for a drug-free ASEAN,” Panelo said.
Panelo said the Filipino people would “eventually reap the substantial benefits of the President’s cautious, pragmatic, diplomatic yet independent stand which he embarked on since the start of his presidency”.
In the ASEAN-China common statement, Duterte highlighted economic cooperation between China and ASEAN for the last eight years particularly merchandise trade which reached USD441.6 billion in 2017, accounting for 17.1 percent of the region’s total merchandise trade.
“We will continue to further discussions on tariff liberalization and investment liberalization and protection, as well as other areas of mutual benefit to bring ASEAN and China closer to achieve the joint target of USD1 trillion in two-way trade, and USD150 billion in two-way investment by 2020,” Duterte said.
Duterte also mentioned another major initiative in the exploration of synergies between the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025 (MPAC 2025) and the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), as well as sub-regional initiatives such as the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia- Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) and the Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS) Master Plan.
In the field of socio-cultural cooperation, Duterte said China has become a major source of tourists for ASEAN, hitting 19.8 million tourist arrivals in 2016 while ASEAN tourists to China recorded 10.34 million in the same year.
Duterte said the ASEAN-China Strategic Partnership Vision 2030 issued on Wednesday will provide a strategic roadmap for ASEAN-China cooperation in the next 12 years.
“It will complement the many ASEAN-China agreements made through the years and the Plan of Action to Implement the Joint Declaration on ASEAN-China Strategic Partnership for Peace and Prosperity (2016-2020). ASEAN-China sectoral bodies and mechanisms shall look into incorporating the Vision 2030 in their work plans,” Duterte said.
In a media interview, Duterte said everything has been excellent between China and the rest of ASEAN.
Aside from the Philippines, other ASEAN member countries are Thailand, Vietnam, Brunei, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia, Malaysia and Singapore which is this year’s ASEAN chairman.
Panelo said Duterte is set to participate in the rest of the summits and a bilateral meeting with the Japanese Prime Minister on Thursday, the final day of the three-day 33rd ASEAN Summit and Related Summits.
From Singapore, Duterte will travel to Papua New Guinea to attend the 19th Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Economic Leaders’ Meeting from Nov. 17 to 18. (PNA)