Nanning, China: China is ready to invest heavily in the Philippines, particularly in infrastructure development, now that President Rodrigo Duterte is showing keen interest in improving the relationship between the two countries, a regional business leader said.
Recalling his visit to Manila three weeks ago, the executive president of the China-Asean Business Council, Xu Ningning, said he observed that quality of infrastructure in the Philippines is still not high enough to attract investments and support a growing economy.
“During my visit to the Philippines I experienced heavy traffic. I thought it was only in Beijing…but it was not just the traffic, it was also the quality of the roads. To me the quality of some of the infrastructure are not high enough,” Xu said.
He was addressing the Philippine delegation during a promotion conference on late Monday, at the 13th China-Asean Expo being held in Nanning, China. He spoke in Mandarin, but it was also translated to English.
The current state of infrastructure in the Philippines, Xu said, presents an opportunity for China and the Philippines to improve the quality of infrastructure of the latter.
Explaining that China-Philippines cooperation “will definitely help the Philippines upgrade its infrastructure,” he stressed that “If you cooperate with America or Japan, you cannot do it.”
China, he pointed out, has cooperated with other Asean countries and their infrastructure has improved. He cited Laos and Cambodia as examples.
“There are so many reasons for us to collaborate with each other,” he added.
In addition, Xu stressed that China pays high attention to the Philippines in all aspects.
“There are a lot of state-owned enterprises, large private enterprises that send us message and e-mail some information about the political environment and also investment opportunities in the Philippines,” he added.
Besides, China, he said, has also recognized the new president’s confidence in building good bilateral trade and economic relations, he added.
“We can see that there is really a good future for us; economic and political. We can all improve together, especially for the political relationships,” he said.
“China’s cooperation is waiting to go in the Philippines. Chinese enterprises are really interested in investment opportunities in the Philippines. We can see the Philippines is really appealing to Chinese companies,” he said.
Xu said the next steps that China and the Philippines need to take is define how they can consolidate and cooperate with each other.
“Firstly, we need to trust each other for cooperation. We need to realize the global economic development is due to China and Asean countries. We should trust our abilities for economic cooperation,” he said.
“I believe China and the Philippines chamber of commerce as a pioneer for the future to establish a brilliant production chain in Philippines. Because if we have a mutual benefit in production chains we can definitely provide economic growth for the Philippines,” he said.
China was ranked as the Philippines’ second major trading partner in 2015. It was the country’s fourth largest export market and one of the top investors, with $294 million worth of investments from 2014 until the first quarter of 2016, according to the Board of Investments.
To recall, China has offered Beijing’s support to the priority projects of the administration in the form of official development assistance for the pipeline projects of the Departments of Public Works and Highways, of Transportation and of Agriculture.
A Chinese company has also expressed its interest to provide funding for the construction of one of the flagship projects of the Duterte administration—the 2,000-kilometer Mindanao Railway System that will connect key cities such as Davao, Zamboanga, Butuan, Surigao, Cagaan de Oro, Iligan, and General Santos.