Philippines, China talk trade despite tensions

Philippine President Benigno Aquino travels to China this week on a mission to secure billions of dollars in trade deals, with both sides looking to rebuild goodwill amid a bruising territorial row.

Aquino's five-day visit starting Tuesday is held against the backdrop of increasingly strident Philippine accusations of Chinese aggression and bullying in their dispute over competing claims to parts of the South China Sea.
philippine china talks

Aquino's aides said he would raise the sensitive issue in his meetings with China's leaders, including President Hu Jintao, but his main focus would be on improving economic ties.

"The visit hopes to push for more trade, investment... it will also showcase the Philippines as an attractive and profitable business destination," Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Cristina Ortega told reporters.

Ortega said the two sides were planning to sign during Aquino's visit a five-year economic plan that would target $60 billion in trade in 2016, a six-fold increase from 2010.

She said one immediate contract may be sealed involving a Chinese car manufacturer investing at least $1.5 billion in the Philippines.

China, with an eye on the Philippines' vast and mostly untapped natural resources, has also signalled it does not want the maritime tensions to derail a flourishing economic partnership.