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DFA: Business delegation shows Duterte's plan in China ties

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte gestures during his address to a Filipino business sector in suburban Pasay city south of Manila, Philippines Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016. Duterte has been under criticism by international human rights groups, the United Nations, European Union and the United States for the more than 3,000 deaths of mostly suspected drug-users and drug-pushers in his so-called "War on Drugs" campaign since assuming the presidency on June 30. AP/Bullit Marquez

MANILA, Philippines — The large business delegation that will accompany President Rodrigo Duterte to China next week shows the direction that he wants to take in carrying out bilateral relations with Beijing now, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said.

DFA spokesperson Charles Jose said that the president will discuss economic, business and investment agreements with China in his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

"The fact that we are bringing a lot of our business people to China, that’s a very clear signal of the direction that we are taking in terms of carrying out our bilateral relations with China now. So we can now see by this the importance that we are giving to our trade and commercial ties with China," Jose said in a press briefing on Friday.

The list of the official and business delegation to China is still being finalized, Jose said. Reports say that around 400 businessmen are going to Beijing with the president.

Jose clarified that the expenses, including airfare and accommodations, of the business delegation will not be shouldered by the Chinese government nor by the Philippine government.

The host country usually pays for the delegation of a visiting nation during state visits.

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"These business people joining the trip will be traveling on their own expense," Jose said.

The Department of Trade and Industry is handling the business aspect of Duterte's state visit to China.

Duterte is also expected to bring up the South China Sea issue during his meeting with the Chinese chief executive.

"Well, the bilateral relations between the Philippines and China are very expansive. So we expect that all areas of interest will be... expected to be discussed including the South China Sea," Jose said.

Jose noted that the top priority of the president is for Filipino fishermen to be allowed to have access to Scarborough Shoal, which is inside the Philippines' exclusive economic zone, to be able to earn their livelihood.

The president is expected to meet separately with National People’s Congress Chairman Zhang Dejiang and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang. He will also meet members of the Filipino community in China.

A part of the president's official program is to visit some law enforcement and drug rehabilitation centers in China.

China had earlier expressed its support for Duterte's campaign against the illegal drug trade despite criticisms from the United States, the European Union and some human rights groups.

READ: China backs Duterte's drug war

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