Gath­er­ing ex­plores greater col­lab­o­ra­tion

Friend­ship ‘is the only and cor­rect choice’ for China-Philip­pine ties, vice-pre­mier says

China Daily (USA) - - TOP NEWS - By ZHANG YUNBI zhangyunbi@chi­

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

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