MANILA, May 8 (Xinhua) -- China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative will promote ASEAN connectivity and ultimately improve regional economic growth and development in the region, a spokesman for the Philippines government said on Monday.
"We believe that the Belt and Road Initiative can be a helpful mechanism for the Philippines to promote its economy interests in the region," Robespierre Bolivar, the acting spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs, told a news conference at the Malanancang presidential palace.
One of the priorities of the Philippines and the nine other member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is connectivity and infrastructure in trying to achieve its vision to be an ASEAN economic community in 2025, he said.
"One of the priorities of the Philippines and ASEAN as whole is connectivity, and of course the Belt and Road Forum also prioritizes connectivity, infrastructure and other regulatory connectivity so we expect that it will be a main topic of discussion and one of the agenda items that will be pushed for during the forum," Bolivar said.
The press conference was called to officially announce President Rodrigo Duterte's trip to Beijing on May 13 to participate in the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation or BRF, which is scheduled to take place from May 14 to May 15.
He said Duterte will join other heads of states and government, as well as heads of international organizations who are also attending the forum.
"The Philippines-China relations have been steadily improving in all aspects over the last a few years, and it's also a welcome development for us to engage more actively with China on economic cooperation," Bolivar said.
Bolivar said the Philippines is at a strategic crossroads between the East and the West and can play a vital role in the Belt and Road Initiative.