Philippines must strike a balance when China’s Xi Jinping comes to visit, analysts say

Sides will sign ‘at least five economic deals’ when Xi meets President Rodrigo Duterte in November, Manila says – But leaders are expected to skirt a long-standing dispute over the South China Sea

By Sarah Zheng
01 November, 2018

While the nation’s strongman President Rodrigo Duterte has made waves with his pivot towards Beijing – including making proclamations of “love” for Xi and a tongue-in-cheek suggestion the Philippines be made a Chinese province – his administration has said it pursues an “independent foreign policy” that does not rely on any one power.

That geopolitical dance with China and the US, its traditional ally on defence, will be put to the test when Xi heads to Manila after this year’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Papua New Guinea, which wraps up on November 18.

At least five economic deals are expected to be signed during Xi’s trip – his first to the country since Duterte took office in 2016 – including more loan agreements for infrastructure projects under Manila’s “Build, Build, Build” development initiative, according to Philippine Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez.