Xi, Duterte to seize important opportunities to build 21st Century Maritime Silk Road

Published April 10, 2018, 3:40 PM

by Francine Ciasico

By Roy Mabasa

During his bilateral meeting with President Duterte in the sidelines of the Boao Forum, Chinese President Xi Jinping will exchange views with his Filipino counterpart on seizing important opportunities to jointly build the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio pose for a photo with People's Republic of China President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan prior to the opening ceremony of Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) Annual Conference 2018 at the BFA International Convention Center in Boao, People’s Republic of China on April 10, 2018. SIMEON CELI JR./PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio pose for a photo with People’s Republic of China President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan prior to the opening ceremony of Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) Annual Conference 2018 at the BFA International Convention Center in Boao, People’s Republic of China on April 10, 2018. (SIMEON CELI JR./PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO)

According to Chinese Ambassador to Manila Zhao Jianhua, this cooperation between Manila and Beijing with undoubtedly “advance the synergy between the development strategies of our two countries, deepen all-around practical cooperation and secure common development.”

“Riding winds and breaking waves, China together with the Philippines will continue to steer the ship of building the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road towards an even brighter future,” Zhao said.

He noted that this upcoming summit between Xi and Duterte, the first of its kind since the election of a new leadership of the Chinese government in March, “bears vital significance of carrying forward China-Philippines traditional friendship and opening up a new vista for this great partnership in the future.”

Zhao said that over a period of more than one year, under the guidance of the two leaders, China-Philippines relations have “achieved an overall turnaround, enjoyed a sustained growth with strength and depth, and surged forward along a fast track.”

He stressed that the practical cooperation between the two countries has garnered steady support from three main pillars of political and security affairs, economic relations and trade, and people-to-people exchanges, “which keep yielding more fruit with each passing day.”

The top Chinese diplomat in the Philippines further noted that the two countries have unleashed great potential for cooperation and reaped rich outcomes.

So far, he said the two countries have signed more than 40 cooperation documents since 2016.

On the other hand, in 2017, China-Philippines trade volume exceeded $50 billion for the first time, making China the Philippines’ top trading partner, top import origin and the fourth largest export market.

Furthermore, China’s investment to the Philippines reached $53.84 million in 2017 alone, representing a year-on-year increase of 67 percent.

In addition, China now stands as the second largest tourist origin to the Philippines.

“China and the Philippines will surely become good neighbors helping each other, good friends supporting each other, and good partners benefiting each other,” he said. “This not only serves both present and long-term interests of our two countries and peoples, but conforms to our common aspiration to safeguard peace, stability and prosperity in the region.”

“I am convinced that, under the wise leadership of our two leaders, China-Philippines strategic mutual trust is bound to be much stronger, economic cooperation and trade much closer, and people-to-people exchanges much richer,” Zhao added.

The 21st-century Maritime Silk Road is a development strategy proposed by the Chinese government that focuses on connectivity and cooperation between Eurasian countries, primarily the China and the land-based Silk Road Economic Belt (SREB) and the ocean-going Maritime Silk Road (MSR). The strategy underlines China’s push to take a larger role in global affairs with a China-centered trading network. It was unveiled by President Xi in September and October 2013.

In the past three years, the focuses were mainly on infrastructure investment, construction materials, railway and highway, automobile, real estate, power grid, and iron and steel.

By various estimates, the Belt and Road Initiative is one of the largest infrastructure and investment mega-projects in history, covering more than 68 countries, equivalent to 65 percent of the world’s population and 40 percent of the global GDP as of 2017.

 
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