Byline: FERDIE J. MAGLALANG
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo embarks today on a threeday state visit to the Peoples Republic of China to discuss important bilateral concerns, such as agricultural cooperation, energy, transportation and trade and investment.
In her first state visit since she secured a fresh electoral mandate, the President and her party will leave at 6 a.m. on board Philippine Air Lines (PAL) Flight A330, at the Villamor Air Base, Presidential Airlift Wing, in Pasay City.
On her fourth visit to China, Mrs. Arroyo will be accompanied by First Gentleman Jose Miguel "Mike" Arroyo, a lean delegation of selected Cabinet officials and some Congress leaders House Speaker Jose de Venecia, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo, Ambassador to China Willi C. Gaa, Secretary of Trade and Industry Cesar V. Purisima, Secretary of Agriculture Arthur Yap, Secretary of Energy Vicente Perez Jr., Chairman Roberto Pagdanganan of the Philippine International Trading Corp., Sen. Aquilino Pimentel, Reps. Juan Miguel Zubiri, Juan Miguel Arroyo, Ignacio T. Arroyo, and Augusto H. Baculio; Palawan Gov. Mario Joel T. Reyes, and Presidential Envoy for Chinese Affairs John K.C. Ng.
While the President is away, Vice President Noli de Castro will assume the chief executives ceremonial functions while Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita will preside over administrative affairs.
On this trip marking the 30th anniversary of RP-China relations which formally started way back on June 9, 1975, the Chief Executive will meet Chinese President Hu Jintao for the first time since he took the helm of the Sino leadership 17 months ago.
She will also hold one on one meetings with Premier Wen Jiabao and former President Jiang Zemin who still has a considerable influence in Chinese political affairs and military policy as chairman of the Central Military Commission.
Political pundits claimed that in her meeting with Chinese leaders, the President is expected to reiterate the nations one-China policy even as the Republic of China (Taiwan) is making its 12th bid for membership to the United Nations in consonance with the universal participation that the UN upholds.
The Chief Executive and the members of the Philippine delegation are expected to make a first stop to Guangzhou province where they will be briefed by Guangdong Gov. Huang Huahua on how the Chinese government battled with the dreaded Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
Mrs. Arroyo, who was considered to be a founding member of the Association for Philippine-China Understanding, will witness the signing of three bilateral agreements and cooperation in the field of energy and fisheries, and the North Luzon Railways construction project.
The President will also witness the signing of several business arrangements between Manila and Beijing.
These are the $30-million Iron Ore Processing Plant in Camarines Norte, $25-million Credit Line Facility for Pharmaceutical and Hospital Products, Technical Cooperation for the Trial Planting of Chinese Hybrid Corn Seeds and the Establishment of a Corn Research Station in the Philippines, and the Purchase Contract of 100 Chinese-Made Compressed Natural Gases (CNG) Buses.
After the bilateral talks, the Chinese leaders will host a state banquet for the President and her party at the West Hall, The Great Hall of the People.
The President will also make a side-trip to Xian province to visit the famed Terracota Museum on the second day of the state visit, reliving the long history of relations and friendship between the two countries, notably on barter trade and commerce. …