Aquino Touts Philippines to Chinese Investors

Posted August 31st, 2011 at 7:45 am (UTC-5)
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Philippine President Benigno Aquino is seeking to boost Chinese investment in his country with a pledge that his government will operate in “a culture of transparency.”

Mr. Aquino made the pledge Wednesday in Beijing before a group of Chinese business executives at the Philippines-China Economic and Trade Forum. He is leading a group of 300 Philippine business leaders on a five-day state visit, during which the countries are expected to sign agreements that would boost trade by more than $50 billion over the next five years.

Mr. Aquino said Manila was turning a corner from the corruption scandals involving his predecessor, Gloria Arroyo. He promised the law will be followed and that “a level playing field” will exist for all businesses.

The president met later Wednesday with Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao, who welcomed the visit as a chance for the two countries to build closer relations.

Mr. Aquino replied that he is very pleased with the visit so far.

Mr. Aquino and his Chinese hosts will likely discuss the ongoing dispute over potentially energy-rich territories in the South China Sea. Six governments lay claim to all or part of the South China Sea, including the largely uninhabited Spratly Island archipelago.

China claims sovereignty over the entire sea, based on an early 20th century map. Manila bases its claim on the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, which grants nations an exclusive economic zone extending more than 300 kilometers from their coastlines.