By Genalyn Kabiling
BEIJING — As the two nations step up economic cooperation, the Philippine has pushed for the swift, lawful and transparent implementation of projects with China under its global infrastructure program.
President Duterte sought to ensure such projects would go through proper procedures during his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping Thursday.
The two leaders met behind closed doors in efforts to forge closer economic and security ties at the Great Hall of the People ahead of the Friday opening of the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing.
“The President took the occasion to welcome more projects for the Philippines under the Belt and Road Initiative based on the principles of transparency and adherence to international law,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said.
Panelo added that both countries have committed to implement various projects “at the soonest possible time.” He said the target completion of projects must be met closely while “proper procedures and requirements are observed.”
Duterte earlier said the country was ready to pursue more high-quality and good impact projects with China under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the major program of Xi promoting infrastructure development across the world. He acknowledged that China’s Belt and Road Initiative would further promote the trade and economic development of the country.
Xi, for his part, has promised to extend more resources to Luzon and Mindanao to spur economic growth as part of his Belt and Road Initiative during the meeting with Duterte.
The Chinese leader has also offered to promote Clark Green City through the building of an industrial park, according to Panelo.
“According to him, the BRI will also play an important role in the ASEAN-China relations, where the Philippines plays an effective role as a country coordinator, and in the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) through increased cooperation,” Panelo said, referring to President Xi.
Panelo said Xi considers the Philippines an important country in the Maritime Silk Road. Xi also drew parallelisms between the Belt and Road Initiative of China to the Duterte administration’s Build, Build, Build infrastructure program.
“We note that China’s Belt and Road Initiative and the Philippines’ Build, Build, Build Program both focus on high-impact infrastructure projects,” he said.
The President’s pitch for clean and transparent projects with China came after the controversy triggered by some China-funded projects in the county.
Some groups have expressed concern that the country’s some loan agreements with China were onerous and might lead to a debt trap while others were worried the projects might undermine the country’s sovereignty.
The government has repeatedly allayed fears of the country falling into a debt trap and assured that the China-funded projects went through review and approval.