Philippine leader embarks on three-day visit to China

Other News Materials 7 August 2008 08:45 (UTC +04:00)

(dpa) - Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on Thursday embarked on a three-day visit to China, where she is to attend the opening of the Olympic Games and meet with top Chinese officials.

Arroyo, who was accompanied by an 11-member delegation, is to meet with President Hu Jintao to discuss ways to "further strengthen trade and economic cooperation between the Philippines and China," a government statement said.

Arroyo was also scheduled to meet with Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, the statement added.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said Arroyo hopes her presence at the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony would motivate Filipino athletes in their quest for the country's first gold medal.

"The presence of the president there will serve as a big motivator, and we hope they will be motivated to do their best so they will come home with the bacon," Ermita said after seeing off Arroyo.

The Philippines has offered a cash reward of 15 million pesos (340,000 US dollars) to any Filipino athlete who wins a gold medal.

The last time the Philippines won a medal was in 1996 in Atlanta, when boxer Mansueto Velasco took the silver in boxing. The Philippines has sent athletes to the games since 1924.