It is said that there are certain orders of magnitude when it comes to the treatment of a visit from a foreign head of state or government to a country. They could arrive as guests of the government, or come for a private visit, a working visit, or an official visit. But the highest form of such an occasion is the state visit, where the host government and the visiting head of state/government observe ceremonial functions as an expression of friendly bilateral relations. The Philippines itself has been host to state visits across many Presidential administrations, with the latest state visit, from China, happening now.
CNN Philippines reports that President Xi Jinping from the People’s Republic of China arrived just before noon at NAIA Terminal 1 this Tuesday, November 20, on an Air China private flight, to kick off a two-day state visit here in the Philippines, the first time a Chinese head of state paid a visit to the country in 13 years. President Xi was received on the tarmac by Philippine Ambassador to China Chito Santaromana and his Chinese counterpart to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua, with Finance Secretary Sonny Dominguez representing President Rodrigo Duterte as ranking government official.
While President Duterte could not welcome Xi Jinping personally, his spokesperson Salvador Panelo has already released on the day before, an official statement welcoming the Chinese President to the country. The statement called to mind Xi’s current tour of state visits to nations in Southeast Asia, in the wake of the recently concluded APEC Summit. It can be recalled that no concrete statement on what China and SEA would do regarding the prickly South China Sea issue, and President Xi has taken the initiative in visiting countries like the Philippines to present a more approachable image of China to neighbors.
Part of President Xi’s itinerary on the first day of his visit is a courtesy call on the Malacañang Palace, followed by the traditional wreath-laying ceremony at the Rizal Monument in Luneta. President Duterte will then host a state banquet for his Chinese counterpart, and meet with him for expanded bilateral talks. On Wednesday, November 21, Xi will confer with the leaders of the Philippine Congress, Senate President Tito Sotto and House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. He is also expected to meet with the Filipino-Chinese community before his return flight to Beijing later that day.
According to Chinese Ambassador the Philippines Zhao Jianhua, he sees far-reaching significance in Xi Jinping’s state visit, saying it will become “a milestone for stronger and closer relations between the two countries.” Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo adds that Xi and Duterte are expected to “exchange views on areas of mutual concern and chart the course for the future of Philippines-China bilateral relations” during their meeting.
Image courtesy of Reuters