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China-funded projects get boost from Prime Minister visit

MANILA, Philippines — The approval and actual implementation of various Chinese projects in the pipeline for the Philippines are expected to get a boost from China Prime Minister Li Keqiang’s visit to Manila.

Li is in the Philippines to attend the 31st ASEAN Summit, primarily to push Chinese diplomacy among its neighbors in the region.

Local businessmen said Li’s visit would fuel a higher level of Philippines-China ties, thus opening the doors to an even more vibrant and productive trade relations between the two nations.

The Chinese leader is expected to check on the status of two bridges in Metro Manila which China is donating to the administration of President Duterte.

The first bridge project is the P4.61-billion Intramuros-Binondo Bridge, a 807-linear meter bridge that will connect Solano St. in Intramuros to San Fernando St. in Binondo.

The second, meanwhile, involves the upgrading of the Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge connecting Makati with Barangay Barangka in Mandaluyong at a cost of P1.376 billion.

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Both grants are expected to ease traffic in the National Capital Region and provide savings of time and money.

The Department of Public Works and Highways has announced that 10 more bridges in Marikina River, Pasig River and Manggahan Floodway are being considered for repairs and upgrading using Chinese technology and funding.

These include Marikina, Manggahan in Pasig and Lambingan Bridge in Sta. Ana, Manila.

Other Chinese projects in the pipeline are the Bicol railway system, hydro-power facilities in Kaliwa Dam, the Mindanao train system and the Chico River irrigation project.

Li, as the representative of the Chinese government in the 31st ASEAN Summit, is also expected to enlighten members of the regional bloc on the status of his country’s Belt and Road Initiative which has become President Xi Jinping’s master economic plan for more than 100 countries in Asia and Europe.

The Belt and Road Initiative is China’s strategy for economic development in the countries lining the old Silk Road and beyond, mindful that economic development of China also depends on not leaving any nation behind on the road to prosperity.

“Many aspects of the Philippines‘ economic relations with China directly benefit the average Filipino – both producers and consumers – thus contributing to more inclusive growth,” said businessman George Siy, president of the Integrated Development Studies Institute.

Siy said the local business community is happy that since the turnaround of Philippines-China relations in October last year, some 20 cooperation documents at the governmental or departmental levels have been signed by both sides.

“The first 10 months of this year saw China become the Philippines’ biggest trading partner, on the back of a surge in Philippine exports to China. Between October last year and end of June this year, China imported 420,000 tons of tropical fruits from the Philippines worth over $200 million. Your bananas, durians and avocados are increasing in popularity in China,” Li has said.

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