Beijing forum seen as further strengthening PH-China ties
President Rodrigo Duterte’s participation in next month’s international forum on the China-led Belt and Road Initiative will further enhance economic cooperation between Manila and Beijing, China’s top trade official said.
In a statement issued on Sunday, the Department of Finance (DOF) quoted Chinese Commerce Minister Zhong Shan as telling Philippine officials in Beijing last week that he hoped another meeting between President Duterte and China President Xi Jinping would “help us reach more consensus and help elevate our cooperation to another high level.”
The DOF said Zhong welcomed the announcement that President Duterte would attend the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing in April.
According to the DOF, Zhong said he was expecting “enormous room for future cooperation between our two countries,” such that China was “more than happy to enhance its pragmatic cooperation with the Philippines in a broader area and at a high level.”
Zhong said the closer ties between Presidents Duterte and Xi resulted in a continuously increasing mutual political trust.
“It’s fair to say our pragmatic trade and economic cooperation has embarked on a new stage. We have huge development either in terms of trade or in terms of investments. I can see enormous potential for our cooperation moving forward as long as we work together,” Zhong said.
For his part, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III was quoted by the DOF as having told Zhong that the Philippines was “earnestly looking forward” to participate in the upcoming Belt and Road Forum as it would be “a major catalyst for more comprehensive international collaboration.”
“We appreciate China’s Belt and Road infrastructure program that will more closely link the economies of Asia and Europe. This program will shape the future of this century and the next century,” said Dominguez, who heads the Duterte administration’s economic team.
Dominguez also thanked the Chinese government for its support to the Duterte administration’s ambitious “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program.
“We look forward to implementing more strategic infrastructure projects supported by highly concessional financing from China,” he said.
The Philippines already secured two loans from China for big-ticket infrastructure projects: $62.09 million for the P4.37-billion Chico River Pump Irrigation, and $211.2 million for the P12.2-billion New Centennial Water Source-Kaliwa Dam. /atm
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