China to continue sharing dev’t benefits with PH: envoy



MANILA — As China marked its 70th founding anniversary with a list of milestones it achieved over the last seven decades, Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua said Beijing would continue sharing the benefits of their progress with partners, including the Philippines.

“China is committed to sharing the benefits of development with the Philippines,” he said in his speech during the reception of the People’s Republic of China anniversary in Makati City Thursday night.

The envoy shared that China is now the Philippines’ top trading partner, the largest source of imports and exports market, as well as the second-largest tourist source. In 2018, its bilateral trade volume reached USD55.7 billion with an 8.5 percent year-on-year increase.

China has also become one of the largest foreign investment origins of the Philippines, with an amount of USD66.62 million last year, nearly 12.5 percent increase from 2017. More than 1.2 million Chinese tourists have also visited the Philippines last year.

Among others, Zhao noted the “considerable progress” made in ‘synergizing’ the Belt and Road Initiative and the Build, Build, Build program of the Philippines.

“The Chico River Pump Irrigation, New Centennial Water Source Kaliwa Dam and the Philippine National Railway’s South Long Haul are being pushed forward in a steady pace, and will contribute to the development of agriculture and transportation in the Philippines,” he said.

“More than a dozen flagship infrastructure projects are in the pipeline to be completed in the next few years,” he added.

Zhao said Beijing would maintain its revived partnership and friendly relations with the Philippines, which previously turned sour over the territorial dispute in the South China Sea.

“It is our belief that South China Sea issue is not the sum total of China-Philippine relations, nor disputes the sum total of South China Sea issue,” he said.

From the fifth China trip of President Rodrigo Duterte last month, Zhao said significant progress was seen in Beijing and Manila’s cooperation.

“Both sides once again reached important consensus on deepening mutually beneficial cooperation in various fields and boosting our common development,” Zhao said.

In the past few years, China provided RMB2.75 billion (around USD398 million) of grants and USD273 million of soft loans to the Philippines to support its Build Build Build program, he said.

At the reception, he announced that another RMB3 billion (around USD421 million) of grant will be further provided for the period of 2019-2022. (PNA)