By Roy Mabasa
The Chinese government announced that it would actively participate in several major infrastructure projects in the Philippines to support President Duterte’s “Build, Build and Build” program.
In a statement following a bilateral meeting with his Filipino counterpart Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano Tuesday, visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi disclosed that China has already promised to provide assistance to build two bridges across Pasig River in Manila.
According to Wang, construction of the bridges would start within the end of July.
He further revealed the Philippine and Chinese governments have agreed on other projects such as the South line of the North-South Railway that would provide a reliable railway system between Bicol and Manila, the New Centennial Water Source-Kaliwa Dam, and the Chico River pump irrigation.
At the same time, the Chinese foreign ministry official revealed that China is poised to provide 100,000 young groupers (Lapu-Lapu) to fishermen in Palawan in order to help increase their production and improve their livelihood.
Other areas of cooperation being discussed include the support in Philippine rice farming, aquaculture and processing of aquatic products, he said.
Wang further revealed that trade between the two countries in the first quarter of this year has increased rapidly making China the largest trading partner of the Philippines.
Philippine export to China has likewise increased by 10.7 percent, he said. Top Philippine products imported to China were bananas, pineapple, mango and other tropical fruits.
Wang said more varieties of Philippine fruits are slated to enter the Chinese market in the future such as avocado, coconut, durian, and dragon fruit.
In addition, he said almost 400,000 Chinese tourists visited the Philippines between January and April this year, nearly 40 percent increase on a year-on-year basis.
“As the largest neighbor of the Philippines, China is ready to be the Philippines’ most sincere and long standing cooperation partner in the journey of national development,” said Wang.