Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III on Wednesday joined Premier Li Keqiang of the People’s Republic of China in a meeting which discussed how to build closer Philippine-China relations.
The meeting, hosted by Li, was held at the Conrad Hotel in Pasay City, and included Senate Majority Floor Leader Vicente Sotto III, Senators Juan Miguel Zubiri, Emmanuel Pacquiao, and Sherwin Gatchalian.
“Our discussion focused on how we can bring China and the Philippines closer together, not just through normal diplomatic channels, but also channels like party to party and parliament to parliament”, said Pimentel.
Pimentel is also the Party President of the ruling PDP Laban, which counts as its Chairman President Rodrigo Duterte, while Li is a member of the Politburo Standing Committee of the Communist Party of China.
There is already an agreement on friendship and cooperation between the two ruling parties. Pimentel will represent PDP Laban in talks with the CPC and ruling parties of other major countries in Beijing this December.
The Senate President said, “There is so much potential for cooperation between our countries. After all, the Philippines and China have had relations long before there was a People’s Republic of China or a Republic of the Philippines.”
Pimentel added, “We have to make up for time lost due to misunderstandings and the politics of old. What Premier Li and I want is to establish a long-standing relationship which would be immune to the issues of the day, and built on the friendship of our two nations, and not just our governments.”
During the meeting, Li pledged that China will provide grants to help rebuild the City of Marawi, and enhanced infrastructure development to increase the Philippines’ industry capacity. In turn, the senators said they will activate the Philippine-China Friendship Association in the Senate and to facilitate an exchange of parliamentarians with the National People’s Congress of China.
Both sides expressed keen interest in the Philippines playing a key role in China’s One Belt, One Road initiative, a plan to accelerate development around the world through trade and cooperation.