Sun, Jun 19, 2016 - Page 3 News List

Philippines’ Duterte welcomes ‘new southbound policy’

Staff writer, with CNA

Philippine president-elect Rodrigo Duterte has welcomed the government’s “new southbound policy” and said he hopes that Taipei and Manila can deepen bilateral exchanges.

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has proposed the policy aimed at improving relations with Southeast Asian countries to reduce economic dependence on China and create opportunities for Taiwanese businesses in Southeast Asia and India.

The Philippines, with its fast-growing economy, is considered an important partner in the plan.

Duterte, the outgoing mayor of Davao, Philippines, told reporters that he welcomed the policy and said he saw an opportunity for agricultural cooperation between the two nations.

The Philippines has large swathes of land and has great agricultural development potential, the 71-year-old politician said, eyeing the opportunity to cooperate with Taiwan’s advanced agriculture sector.

Duterte visited Taiwan several times during his time as mayor of Davao.

His impression of Taiwan is of a peaceful and safe place where people can walk city streets even at midnight, he said.

In 2012, he visited Taiwan to promote police exchanges with Davao.

During Duterte’s presidential election campaign, he paid a three-day visit to Taiwan in January to observe the nation’s transportation infrastructure, including the high-speed rail system and the Taipei Mass Rapid Transit system.

On that trip, he called on officials at the Philippines’ National Police Agency, the Investigation Bureau and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to discuss bilateral law enforcement cooperation in combating crime, the drug trade and gun smuggling.

Duterte, known for his efforts to fight crime and drug trafficking, has long supported continued cooperation between Taiwan and the Philippines in law enforcement.

Duterte is to be sworn in as president of the Philippines on June 30.

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