China and the Philippines are good partners to jointly build the Belt and Road
Tan Qingsheng (The Philippine Star) - April 27, 2019 - 12:00am

Charge d’affaires a. i. of the Chinese embassy in the Philippines

In 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which has become one of the most important regional platforms for cooperation. So far, a total of 126 countries and 29 international organizations have signed BRI cooperation documents with China. In the past six years, the total trade volume between China and countries participating in the BRI has exceeded $6 trillion, and China’s investment has grown to over $80 billion and around 300,000 jobs have been created in the countries involved. It is also worth mentioning that the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation is being held in Beijing. Around 40 heads of state  and of government and representatives from 150 countries around the world joined the forum. The Forum is bound to inject new impetus to the common development of our region and the world at large.

The Philippines is one of the most important developing countries in Asia, and a natural partner in jointly building the BRI. Under the strategic guidance of our two leaders, China-Philippines relations have entered a golden age with political and security coordination, economic cooperation, and people-to-people exchanges, the three major pillars of our bilateral relations have been greatly strengthened.

Last November, Chinese President Xi Jinping successfully paid his first state visit to the Philippines and elevated our relationship into one that is of comprehensive strategic cooperation. The two leaders witnessed the exchange of 29 documents covering functional cooperation in various fields, including the MOU on Belt and Road initiative cooperation. And President Duterte has led a high-level delegation to attend the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation and held bilateral meetings with Chinese leaders. We have every reason to believe that this visit will not only strengthen the synergies between the Belt and Road initiative and the Build, Build, Build program, but also upgrade our bilateral cooperation to a new high.

The development of bilateral relations has brought tangible economic benefits to our peoples. Bilateral trade volume in 2018 reached $55.7 billion, with an 8.5 percent year-on-year increase.  China is now the Philippines’ top trading partner, the largest source of imports and the fourth largest export market. We have imported more than $2 billion tropical fruits from the Philippines over the past two years.  Last year, we have imported more than one million metric tons of bananas and became the number one market for Philippine bananas, claiming the spot that Japan had held for over 30 years.  

Funded by China’s grants or soft loans, a number of major infrastructure projects are continuously making headway. Among others, the two drug-rehab centers in Mindanao have been completed and turned over to the Philippine side ahead of schedule, which provided about 800 job opportunities for locals and will cater at least 300 patients.  We are also building 13 schools in Davao city. The two bridges over the Pasig River in Manila are under construction and will greatly ease traffic jams in that area. The Chico River Pump Irrigation Project is expected to deliver water to 8700 hectares of rice lands and benefit 4250 farmers of 22 barangays. Once completed, the New Centennial Water Source-Kaliwa Dam could provide at least 600 million liters of water per day for the Metro Manila which could meet its water demand in the next 10 years.  The Philippine National Railway’s South Long Haul will largely improve transportation infrastructure which will span more than 10 cities and towns connecting Manila to South Luzon and will greatly reduce travel time between Manila and Legazpi.

As an ancient Chinese poem goes, “The river is wide at full tide; a strong wind sends the sail surging forward.” Looking into the future, as China and the whole world stand at a fresh historic juncture to materialize the BRI in a spirit of joint consultation, building and sharing, the Philippines is destined to be one of the most important participants, contributors and beneficiaries. China and the Philippines will surely become good neighbors helping each other, good friends supporting each other, and good partners benefiting each other. This not only serves both present and long-term interests of our two countries and peoples, but conforms to our common aspiration to safeguard peace, stability and prosperity in the region. Let us join hands and make concerted efforts to forge an ever brighter New Golden Age for our bilateral ties.

PHILIPPINES AND CHINA
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