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14 agreements signed in Manila
By Qin Jize (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-04-28 05:47

MANILA: China and the Philippines are pushing for the establishment of a "strategic and co-operative relationship for peace and development" by signing a series of agreements to open the way for more trade, investment and maritime co-operation.

Visiting President Hu Jintao and Philippine President Arroyo met in Manila yesterday and witnessed the signing of 14 agreements.

Among the agreements were a low-interest loan of US$500 million to Manila, mining projects, joint offshore exploration operations, telecommunication projects and youth affairs.

Hu said bilateral ties have made considerable strides with increasing political trust and fruitful trade and economic co-operation.

Last year, bilateral trade amounted to more than US$13 billion and the two countries are targeting annual trade of US$30 billion by 2010.

"China and the Philippines have taken the lead in making the breakthrough in joint development in the South China Sea, thus taking a valuable step forward in turning the area into a sea of friendship and co-operation," Hu said.

The Philippines and China signed an agreement for a joint marine seismic undertaking in the South China Sea last September and Viet Nam also came on board in March, a move seen as a significant development in strengthening ASEAN-China co-operation and paving the way for the future settlement of the South China Sea dispute.

According to Hu, the bilateral relationship should be developed focusing on several aspects including personnel exchanges at all levels and in all fields, further trade and economic development, security consultation mechanisms, China-ASEAN ties and enhanced co-ordination in multi-lateral affairs.

Arroyo spoke highly of Hu's suggestions, saying bilateral ties "are in a golden age." She said the Philippines is willing to join efforts with China in expanding co-operation in the fields of resources.

As for detailed trade co-operation, Hu said China will continue to take part in railway construction in the Philippines and will offer financing deals within its capacity.

Speaking before the joint session of the Philippine Congress on the second day of his three-day state visit, Hu said "development is the top priority for Asia and co-operation is the order of the day."

Hu reiterated that China is confident of meeting its target of US$200 billion annual trade with ASEAN countries by 2010, up from US$105.9 bilion in 2004, with the help of steady progress in the development of a China-ASEAN Free Trade Area.

He also said China is ready to work actively with ASEAN to implement the China-ASEAN strategic partnership for peace and prosperity.

(China Daily 04/28/2005 page1)

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