Gathering explores greater collaboration
Friendship ‘is the only and correct choice’ for China-Philippine ties, vice-premier says
China is willing to participate in the construction of railways and airports in the Philippines and work together for better connectivity, VicePremier Zhang Gaoli told a high-end forum of business leaders from both countries on Thursday in Beijing.
Zhang, attending the forum with visiting Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, listed a series of priority sectors for “unfolding, in-depth cooperation”. They included infrastructure, production capacity, trade investment and agricultural poverty alleviation.
More than 700 delegates gathered at the China-Philippine Trade and Investment Forum in hopes of returning bilateral economic collaboration to its former strength as the relationship between the countries is being improved during Duterte’s visit.
The two countries are “neighbors that cannot move away from each other”, Zhang said, and a neighborly friendship is the “only and correct choice for both”. They should increase links in their respective development strategies, he said.
Duterte triggered warm applause from time to time during his speech as he stated his appreciation of China’s support on economic fronts.
“I have Chinese blood,” he said.
Ramon M. Lopez, secretary of the Philippines Department of Trade and Industry, voiced optimism about the prospects for trade and tourism. “Total trade could be doubled, even tripled, within a few years,” he said.
Jiang Zengwei, chairman of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, said the development of economic and trade cooperation “has maintained good momentum in the past years” as collaboration advanced in sectors including trade, investment and projects contracting.
“The two economies are complementary— they have a lot of shared interests,” said Jiang, a former vice-minister of commerce. “The upgrading process of the China-ASEAN free trade zone has ushered in more newchances for the twoway cooperation”.
Ruan Zongze, vice-president of the China Institute of International Studies, noted that China is the Philippines’ second-largest trade partner, and “the trade volume has remained despite the chilly period in the bilateral ties”.
“Duterte proposed a tenpoint plan for boosting his country’s economy, and the outcomes of his state visit to China are in step with his plan,” Ruan said.
The fruits of this in fields such as infrastructure, tourism and agricultural product exports will benefit Philippine livelihoods, Ruan added.
Johnson Cheng, president of Philippine Straits Travel Agency, said that as Manila hopes to attract more Chinese tourists to its seaside attractions, “the government realizes the limited capacity for hosting guests”.
“That’s why they are introducing special economic zones with a tourism theme, and they offer preferential policies to attract Chinese investors,” Chang said.
Ruan said: “China’s investment is not aid — it is of mutual benefit. State and private enterprises can join in and play by the rules of the market. The government just serves as a supporter and a guide.”
The two economies are complementary — they have a lot of shared interests.” Jiang Zengwei, chairman of China Council for the Promotion of International Trade