By Genalyn Kabiling
BEIJING — China has pledged to provide one billion yuan grant to the Philippines, donate rice and import local fruits as part of the commitment to help spur economic development to the Asian neighbor.
Chinese President Xi Jinping made the offer to President Duterte, whom he called a “true friend,” during their bilateral talks that included discussions on the Belt and Road Initiative, according to Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo.
“President Xi committed to providing One Billion Yuan grant to the Philippines,” Panelo said after the “fruitful and productive” bilateral meeting of the two leaders.
Panelo said Xi also committed to providing more resources to Luzon and Mindanao to spur regional economic growth as well as promote Clark Green City through the building of an industrial park.
“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,” he said.
Apart from China’s commitment to the BRI, Panelo said Xi also mentioned that the first group of Filipino teachers may soon start teaching English in China.
“He also committed to continuing donating rice and fingerlings and importing our local fruits,” Panelo added.
Panelo also recognized that the Belt and Road Initiative, a major global infrastructure drive initiated by Xi, would further help in the economic development of the Philippines.
He said Xi also recognized the Philippines as an important country in the Maritime Silk Road and drew parallelisms between the Belt and Road Initiative of China to 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.
“We consider the BRI, as articulated by PRRD, as another opportunity to renew and reaffirm our valued relationship, which we must continue to foster in the coming years with an aspiration that our fellow Filipinos will feel the true benefits of the PH-China relations,” he added.
In the same meeting with Duterte, Panelo said Xi offered his deep condolences to the Philippines in the aftermath of the earthquakes that rocked some parts of the country.
Duterte, meantime, thanked Xi for inviting him to the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing.
He said Duterte welcomed more projects for the Philippines under the Belt and Road Initiative “based on the principles of transparency and adherence to international law.”
The Philippine leader likewise affirmed both countries’ commitment to implementing various projects at the soonest possible time, according to Panelo.
He said they hope to meet the targets closely and ensure proper procedures and requirements are observed.