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Asean Affairs    29  August  2011

Aquino off to China

By  David Swartzemtruber

AseanAffairs     29  August 2011

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Philippine President Benigno Aquino will lead a group of 300 businessmen when he visits China starting Tuesday.

Aquino's state visit comes amid the ongoing tensions in the South China Sea and the Spratly Islands and the anniversary of the Manila bus hostage tragedy that killed eight Hong Kong tourists.

Trade and investments will be the main agenda of President Aquino during his visit to China.

Among the trade agreements to be signed is a five-year development program for trade and economic cooperation between the two countries.

It will focus on infrastructure, mining, energy, information and tourism, which will generate US$60 billion in investments for the Philippines.

Contentious issues such as the territorial dispute over the Spratly islands might also be raised by President Aquino, but both sides agree that the controversial issue will not affect bilateral relations.

China maintains its willingness to partner with claimant-countries including the Philippines to jointly explore the contested group of islands.

Aside from promoting the Philippines as a business destination, President Aquino will also promote the Philippines as a tourist hub.

With tourist arrivals from China posting an annual growth rate of about 20 per- cent, it is now one of the country's fastest-growing markets. This is despite the bungled hostage rescue last year that killed eight tourists from Hong Kong.

Though China will not be asking Hong Kong to lift its travel warning to the Philippines, China will continue to promote exchanges with the Philippines.

Aside from Beijing, President Aquino will also go to Shanghai and Xiamen, where he will honor his Chinese ancestors. These historical ties between the two countries give rise to optimism that both countries will be able to resolve sensitive issues that have recently strained bilateral relations.


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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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