By Chino S. Leyco
Outgoing Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua is hopeful that Beijing’s improved economic and business ties with Manila will be sustained by his successor.
In a recent meeting with Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III, Zhao expressed confidence that his successor would be able “to finish as many projects as possible” and “lay the groundwork for many projects as soon as possible.”
Zhao said that since the Duterte administration took office, China and the Philippines have made “several gains” in the economic and business fields.
Just last month, the two countries signed and exchanged six bilateral documents on the feasibility studies for two big-ticket infrastructure projects and four other agreements covering areas of cooperation in trade, customs and communications.
With the warming of bilateral relations between Manila and Beijing, the two countries have also signed three loan agreements amounting to $493.08 million and $430.82 million worth of grants.
Dominguez, however, assured Zhao of the Duterte’s economic team’s support for the Chinese envoy’s successor, who is expected to arrive in Manila next month.
“As soon as he arrives, we will have our team meet him right away and brief him,” Dominguez told Zhao.
During the farewell meeting with Zhao, Dominguez cited the ambassador’s key role in “reinvigorating bilateral relations” between the Philippines and China, as well as in bringing the leaders of the two countries closer.
According to Dominguez, the Chinese diplomat’s “personal efforts” in strengthening China’s bilateral ties with the Philippines have paid off in terms of expanding trade and economic cooperation between the two countries.
“It’s really through your efforts that built this relationship between the Philippines and China,” Dominguez told Zhao during the meeting.
Zhao, in turn, thanked Dominguez and the rest of the Philippine economic team for their “valuable assistance” in “promoting and upgrading our bilateral relationship.”
“I think the economic and trade relationship in (the fields of) investments and infrastructure (cooperation) will continue to be a vital pillar for the steady growth of our bilateral relationship. The Chinese side will continue to take this as top priority in our bilateral relationship,” he said.
Zhao, 53, served as China’s envoy to the Philippines for five years starting his diplomatic stint here in 2014.