Chinese state councilor to visit PH for joint exploration talks

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Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano and Chinese State Councilor Wang Yi.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 13) — Chinese State Councilor Wang Yi will visit the country to discuss with government officials the proposed joint exploration in the West Philippine Sea, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Tuesday.

Wang will head to the country on September 16 to 18, upon the invitation of DFA Secertary Alan Cayetano.

The DFA said the visit will also entail discussions on infrastructure projects under the "Build, Build, Build" program.

"The two sides are also expected to continue discussions on oil and gas cooperation, with the view of coming up with a framework of cooperation that conforms to respective rules and regulations and international laws," the DFA said.

Cayetano, in the statement, said the visit demonstrates the stronger ties between the two nations.

"The Philippines and China are both committed to continue on the path of cooperation, all the while ensuring that the Filipino and the Chinese peoples will reap the dividends of our mutual efforts," he said.

The DFA chief is hoping to have the framework some time within the year. In an earlier interview, Cayetano said both countries would set aside territorial claims during the joint exploration.

The maritime row between Beijing and Manila has strained relations between the two countries. President Rodrigo Duterte has been warming up to China, despite its refusal to observe a 2016 arbitral ruling recognizing Philippines' sovereign rights over contested areas in the South China Sea.

Wang's visit comes before Chinese President's Xi Jinping trip to the Philippines by yearend.

READ: Roque: Duterte invited Xi Jinping to his home in Davao