China-backed projects seen making steady progress

china zhao philstar - China-backed projects seen making steady progressCHINESE AMBASSADOR ZHAO JIANHUA — PHILSTAR/MICHAEL VARCAS

CHINESE Ambassador Zhao Jianhua said major Philippine infrastructure projects supported by China are making steady progress and have produced “tangible outcomes.”

In remarks delivered Thursday ahead of the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China on Oct. 1, Mr. Zhao said China and the Philippines remain “sincere partners” in development.

“Under the strategic guidance of President Xi Jinping and President Duterte, China-Philippine relations have moved forward steadily and have delivered tangible outcomes,” Mr. Zhao said.

“China is committed to sharing the benefits of development with the Philippines.”

He noted that China is now the country’s top trading partner, “the largest source of imports and export market as well as the second-largest tourist source.”

He added, “China has provided 2.75 billion yuan (around $398 million) of grants and $273 million of soft loans to the Philippines to support its Build Build Build Plan, and another 3 billion yuan (around $421 million) of grants will be further provided from 2019-2022.”

The envoy also said that there was progress in integrating China’s Belt and Road Initiative and the Philippines’ Build, Build, Build program. Meanwhile, dozen of flagship infrastructure are expected to be completed in the coming years.

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

Mr. Zhao also said that China will be sending agriculture and fishery experts “so that Philippine farmers and fishermen can directly enjoy the dividends of China-Philippine relations.”

Mr. Zhao said that he is committed to maintaining peace with the Philippines.

“It is our belief that South China Sea issue is not the sum total of China-Philippine relations, nor disputes the sum total of the South China Sea issue,” he said. “We would also like to make concerted efforts with the Philippines to promote substantial progress of the joint exploration of oil and gas.”

President Rodrigo R. Duterte said his Chinese counterpart has offered Manila a controlling stake in a joint energy venture in the South China Sea, if it sets aside an international arbitral award that went against Beijing. — Vince Angelo C. Ferreras

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