PH to sign deals with China at Boao forum

Philippine Ambassador to China Jose Santiago Sta. Romana. (RTVM image)

THE Philippines and China are expected to sign a couple of agreements during the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) Annual Conference 2018 in Hainan, China on April 9, 2018.

The possible agreements to be signed are on the Chinese loan for the Chico Dam project and hiring of Filipino teachers, Ambassador to China Jose Santiago ‘Chito’ Sta. Romana said in a press briefing on Monday.

Sta. Romana said minor details about the loan agreement are still being ironed and should be ready in time for the forum, where President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese leader Xi Jinping are expected to meet and talk.

The other agreement is on the hiring of more Filipino teachers in China, Sta. Romana said.

There are Filipino teachers in China who found their jobs there on their own but the hiring was on a case to case basis, according to Sta. Romana.

However, warmer ties between the two countries prompted China to relax rules on sourcing of foreign English teachers, he said.

The previous rule excluded the Philippines as source of English teachers and require foreign teachers to be native speakers of the language. When China allowed teachers from non-English speaking countries, the Philippines cannot be excluded, Sta. Romana said.

China is now more open and more accommodating of English teachers from the Philippines, he said.

Also, the two countries are exploring the possibility of formally opening China’s labor market to other types of Filipino workers, including domestic helpers.

Sta. Romana said the number of China’s middle class families is growing and their need for domestic helpers is also growing.

But the Philippine government wants Filipino migrants in China to be covered by social security and fair labor rules.

Meanwhile, there would be no agreement on the joint exploration of mineral resources in the South China Sea/West Philippine Sea to be signed by China and the Philippines at the Boao forum, said Sta. Romana.

The ambassador said joint exploratory talks on the matter are still ongoing.

The Philippines is trying to find suitable framework that should be within our constitutional and legal requirements while China also has its own parameters to consider, according to Sta. Romana.

Duterte is set to attend the BFA opening ceremony and join the welcoming banquet hosted by Xi and Madame Peng Liyuan in Boao, the permanent site of the BFA Headquarters.

The Boao Forum for Asia is a non-governmental and non-profit international organization “dedicated to promoting Asian countries to achieve common development through further integration of regional economy.”

Proposed in 1998 by former President Fidel Ramos of the Philippines, former Prime Minister Bob Hawke of Australia, and former Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa of Japan, the BFA was formally inaugurated on February 27, 2001 and has since become a platform for dialogues among leaders of governments, industrial and business experts, entrepreneurs, and academic scholars to deepen the economic exchange, coordination, and cooperation within Asia and other parts of the world.

This year’s annual conference scheduled from April 8-11, 2018 is themed, “An Open and Innovative Asia for a World of Greater Prosperity”, which will see around 60 formal discussions on reform, innovation, the sharing economy, blockchain, new retail, and the 40th anniversary of China’s reform and opening up drive.

From Boao, President Duterte proceeds to Hong Kong Special Administrative Region for a working visit.