Chinese envoy: PHL grants come with no strings attached

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The Philippines is not a province of the People’s Republic of China, Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua stressed on Tuesday, July 17, in response to the “Welcome to the Philippines, Province of China” banners that were hung from several pedestrian bridges in Metro Manila last week.

“It has never been any part of China. No, not now, not ever,” the Chinese official told reporters on the sidelines of the groundbreaking ceremony of the Chinese-funded Binondo-Intramuros Bridge and Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge projects in Intramuros, Manila, on Tuesday afternoon , which was also attended by President Rodrigo R. Duterte.

In his speech, Mr. Zhao promised that the Philippines will not fall into a “debt trap” as it funds major infrastructure projects under Mr. Duterte’s Build, Build, Build program.

“China’s grants do not have any strings attached to them, and China’s loans to finance infrastructure projects will not make the Philippines fall into a debt trap,” he said.

He added: “Because under the wise leadership of President Duterte and the economic management team headed by Finance (Secretary Carlos G.) Dominguez III, they are smart enough not to allow the Philippines fall into the so-called debt trap, and China will honor this commitment to make sure those projects will benefit the Filipino people and will not have any inactive impact on the socio-economic development of the Philippines.”

The Chinese official likewise said that China views the Philippines as one of the most important participants in its “belt and road initiative (BRI),” a development strategy by the Chinese government which focuses on connectivity and cooperation between Asia and Europe through infrastructure projects.

For his part, Mr. Duterte directed the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and other agencies concerned to ensure that the construction of the two bridges will be finished “within 30 months or earlier.”

Chinese envoy: PHL grants come with no strings attached

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