Duterte made the remarks during his meeting with Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee member Meng Xiangfeng at Malacañang last Tuesday.

Duterte: Philippines-China bond ‘improving’ daily
Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - January 11, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The bond between the Philippines and China is “improving every day,” President Duterte said in the face of concerns over the militarization of artificial islands built and occupied by the Chinese in the South China Sea.

Duterte made the remarks during his meeting with Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee member Meng Xiangfeng at Malacañang last Tuesday.

“During the meet and greet at Malacañan Palace, the President reiterated ‘our desire and wish of the Filipino people that we make our bond stronger,’ ” a Palace statement read. “He (Duterte) further noted that the bond is ‘improving every day.’ ”

The meeting took place on the same day Malacañang said there was no breach in good faith when China made further works in the areas it reclaimed.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said there is no violation of good faith if China does not embark on new reclamation projects.

Roque was asked to react to reports that China has built a fortified air base and other military structures on Kagitingan (Fiery Cross) Reef, despite its promise that it would not militarize the South China Sea.

Aside from Kagitingan, China also undertook reclamation projects on Panganiban (Mischief), Zamora (Subi), Burgos (Gaven), Kennan (Hughes), Mabini (Johnson South) and Calderon (Cuarteron) Reefs, areas off the western province of Palawan. The land features are within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

Last month, a Chinese government report said China has “reasonably” expanded its islands in the disputed area to strengthen its military defense capability. The expansion would also benefit residents of the island by providing them with stable power supply and fresh water, the report added.

The construction projects in the South China Sea reportedly covered about 290,000 square meters this year and included new facilities for underground storage, administrative buildings and large radar.

Other CPC members present during the meeting were Yuan Zhibing, director-general of Bureau One International Department; Lin Zhi, division chief of the personnel bureau; and Du Dingding, division chief of the Bureau One International Department. Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua and Embassy of China Counsellor Sun Yi were also present.

Duterte said the CPC members visited the country upon the invitation of his political party Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban).

Among the Philippine officials present were Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III and Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi.

Meeting Noda

The President also met with Seiko Noda, the minister for internal Affairs and communications of Japan, last Tuesday.

At the meeting, Noda thanked Duterte for taking time to meet her despite the President’s busy schedule.

With Noda were Koji Haneda, Japan’s ambassador; Kenichi Imabayashi, director-general of the global strategy bureau of the internal affairs and communication ministry; Kazuaki Omori, director for the international cooperation division of the global strategy bureau; and Takehiro Kano, Embassy of Japan deputy chief of mission.

Presidential communications secretary Martin Andanar, presidential spokesman Harry Roque and information and communications technology undersecretary Eliseo Rio Jr. were also present during the courtesy call.

On the same day, Duterte received the credentials of the newly appointed ambassadors of Timor Leste, Paraguay, Estonia and Malta.

Presenting their credentials were Timor Leste Ambassador Jose Gaspar dos Reis Correia Piedade, Paraguay Ambassador Irineo Raul Silvero Silvagni, Estonia Ambassador Jaak Lensment and Malta Ambassador John Joseph Aquilina.

Opposition lawmaker Rep. Gary Alejano of party-list Magdalo has called China “double-faced” and criticized Malacañang for defending the Asian power against accusations that it had not kept its promise not to militarize artificial islands in the South China Sea and West Philippine Sea.  – Delon Porcalla, Jaime Laude

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