Quit debating and just do it



[This is published as submitted to The Manila Times.]

NOT long ago, President Duterte made a successful and fruitful state visit to China. The two countries issued a Joint Declaration, signed 13 bilateral cooperation documents in areas of economic and trade, investment, industrial cooperation, agriculture, tourism, anti-drugs, finance, coast guard, infrastructure construction, and said they will further strengthen the cooperation in fishery and tourism. China will cancel the Travel Advisory to the Philippines which was issued years ago, and will resume import of tropical fruits from 27 Philippine companies. Enterprises from both countries have signed dozens of cooperation agreements. The historic and friendly visit of President Duterte marks the overall recovery of bilateral relations, and a new stage of pragmatic cooperation between China and the Philippines. Next, under the mandate by the two Leaders, we are tasked to implement the consensus, consolidate the achievements, and work for the “early harvest”.

However, noting the report recently in certain Philippine media entitled “Chinese company banned by World Bank bags PH infrastructure project” brought my thoughts back to the year of 2009. I was working in Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) in China at the time, and I remembered the MOFCOM spokesperson specifically talked on this very issue: “The companies appealed that there were flaws in the World Bank’s investigation in terms of evidence and investigation procedures…With no response, the enterprises hope WB will give a clear explanation… The Chinese government always requests Chinese enterprises overseas abide by laws and contracts, strictly follow the local legal regulations, we oppose to any fraudulent practices to win a project”. The relevant Chinese companies also made statements that there were no collusion in the bidding, and regret to see WB’s one-sided decision on the sanction. There’s a Chinese saying: “Correct mistakes if you have made any, and guard against them if you have not”. The sanction of WB did leave negative impact on the Chinese companies, but on the other hand, it forced the companies to build compliance systems that cover all international operations, and continuously improve the internationalized management level. Takethe debarred China Communication Construction Co. Ltd. (CCCC) for example, its rapid development made the company rank 110 in the world’s top 500 companies, and it is in the 3rd place in the ENR Top 225 Global Contractors Rank.

We welcome media’s supervision, but the premise lies that the reports should come from the truth. Looking at some media’s reports, we can see groundless, lurid and exaggerated remarks. Firstly, the World Bank banned relevant companies from bidding roadand bridge projects funded by WB. However, the sanction didn’t preclude the company’s engagement in projects of other categories, or the projects funded by other financial institutions. Still taking CCCC as an example, during WB’s sanction, CCCC successfully constructed and delivered many overseas landmarks, such as Suramadu Cross-sea Bridge in Indonesia, Penang Second Cross-sea Bridge in Malaysia, Addis Ababa-Adama Expressway in Ethiopia, Mombasa-Nairobi Railway in Kenya, etc. All the projects have made great contribution to the local economy and people’s livelihood, and we didn’t see any objection of CCCC’s participation. Secondly, the Chinese companies only signed Memorandums of Understandings this time, and is going to make feasibility studies at their own expense, which are very far from, citing from the report, “bagged PH infrastructureprojects”. Lastly, on the accusation of corruption, Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) chief has made it clear, that all projects will be put out to tender, and the implementation will go through the most rigorous, stringent, and transparent procurement rules of the Philippines. I should add that, both China and the Philippines stand firmly against corruption, and will leave no space of refuge for whomever that corrupts. People in charge of the Chinese enterprises that signed MOUs this time will never risk their lives on one or two projects.

There is another Chinese saying: “Many Hands Make Light Work”. The door of friendship between China and the Philippines is open, and the direction of pragmatic cooperation is clear. There should be more consensus and less divergence, more practical work and less empty talk. Whatever benefits the economic development and improves people’s livelihood should be insisted, with firm and indomitable spirit, so we can strive for an “early harvest” of President Duterte’s “Beijing achievements” as early as possible.


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