(Yicai Global) Oct. 18 -- Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte started a four-day state visit to China today accompanied by 300 Filipino business leaders.
It is the first visit by a Philippine president since 2011, and the seventh since diplomatic ties between the two countries was formally established in 1975.
Mr. Duterte told Xinhua News Agency, China's state media, that he will use this visit to open dialogues with China to enhance mutual understanding and cooperation.
The Western-Pacific nation urgently needs to improve its transport infrastructure, Mr. Duterte said, but the country lacks the funds. "No country can achieve rapid growth without railways. The Philippines needs to build railways and hopes that China can offer soft loans. We can repay the loans if we're given enough time," the President said.
During Mr. Duterte's visit, the two countries will discuss more than 12 memorandums of understanding covering a wide range of topics from tourism, infrastructure and fishing to drug crackdowns and the South China Sea disputes, Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua said at a press conference last week.
China is the second-largest trading partner of the Philippines, according to statistics published by the Philippine government. Bilateral trade between the two countries totaled USD17.65 billion last year, accounting for 13.6 percent of the total trade volume of the Philippines.