BEIJING -- Nearly 40 heads of states, including President Rodrigo Duterte, met for the opening ceremony of the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in this city Friday.

The attendance of world leaders, as well as heads of international organizations in China’s major diplomatic event, affirmed their support for the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) launched by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013.

To date, more than 150 countries have signed with the BRI cooperation, Xi said in his keynote speech.

He noted that the BRI’s focus now is the execution of these high-quality projects in BRI countries.

“Going ahead we should focus on priorities and project execution, move forward results-oriented implementation, and jointly promote high-quality Belt and Road cooperation,” the Chinese president said.

BRI should also promote green and sustainable cooperation, while making the flow of capitals in BRI countries easier.

“The Belt and Road cooperation has opened up new space for global economic growth, produced new platforms for international trade and investment, and offered new ways to improving global economic governance,” Xi said.

Xi received Thursday his counterparts from BRI partner countries, including Duterte, at the Great Hall of the People.

The Philippine and Chinese presidents also had bilateral meetings, affirming the good relations between the two countries.

Duterte and Xi witnessed the signing of two government-to-government agreements -- the Handover Certificate Grant-Aid for the Dangerous Abuse Treatment and Rehabilitation Centers Project and the Exchange of the Letters on Production Capacity and Investment Cooperation.

“The decision to elevate bilateral ties to a comprehensive, strategic cooperation affirms the Philippines and China’s strong desire to further deepen and broaden this engagement,” Duterte said.

"I would like to stand together with Mr. President, and continue to bring forward the bilateral relations along the right direction from a strategic and long-term perspective," Xi, on the other hand, said.

Moreover, Duterte noted that the cooperation and partnership under the China-led BRI will bring “high-quality” and “good-impact” projects to the Philippines.

The BRI’s focus is connectivity through infrastructure, complementing the “Build Build Build” program of the Philippine government.

Earlier, Philippine Ambassador to China Jose Santiago Sta. Romana said Duterte’s attendance to the forum targets to seek synergy and convergence with developments in the region, particularly infrastructure connectivity.

The BRI aims to bolster trade, investment, and infrastructure connectivity in Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Middle East, following the ancient trade route called Silk Road. (PNA)