China-Philippines Cooperation: Moving towards the post-COVID-19 era

Published May 14, 2021, 6:14 PM

by Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian

(Remarks by H.E. Ambassador Huang Xilian at the Forum on China-Philippines Cooperation Development in the Post-COVID-19 Era, May 14, 2021)

It gives me great pleasure to attend this forum. As the COVID-19 pandemic is still raging, it remains our main task to bring it under control. Meanwhile, we need to plan in advance and have forethought on the post-COVID-19 development.

To look ahead and explore the future, we need to look back and review the past. Since President Duterte took office, under the leadership of President Xi Jinping and President Duterte, we have upgraded our ties to comprehensive strategic cooperation, further synergized the Belt and Road Initiative and the “Build, Build, Build” program, and realized fruitful practical cooperation between China and the Philippines.

According to the Philippine statistics, our bilateral trade in goods increased from US$ 17.7 billion in 2015 to US$29.5 billion in 2020. China has remained the Philippines’ largest trading partner since 2016.

According to the Philippines’ approved foreign investment data, China’s investment to the Philippines ballooned from 1.5 billion pesos in 2015to 15.6 billion pesos in 2020, with nearly a tenfold increase. Accordingly, China climbed up from the fifteenth largest foreign investor of the Philippines in 2015 to the second largest in 2020.

Breakthroughs have been made in major projects invested by Chinese enterprises in the Philippines. For example, DITO, a major telecom project participated by China Telecom, has launched commercial services in select areas, and is expected to expand its services to Metro Manila this month. Panhua Group’s Integrated Steel Mill project, with an investment of $3.5 billion in phase I, is under construction, and is supposed to be the first integrated steel mill in the Philippines once completed.

Notable Chinese investments have also flowed into the advanced manufacturing sector of the Philippines, such as the high-end bearing factory operated by C&U Group and the electronic components factories established by Shenzhen Grandsun and Guangzhou Bocheng.

As to the bilateral G-to-G cooperation projects, more than 30 projects have been carried out in President Duterte’s administration. Specifically, 12 projects with a total value of around US$ 100 million, including the Dangerous Drug Abuse Treatment Rehabilitation Centers and the COVID-19 Vaccine Donation Project, have been launched and completed. Seven projects are under implementation with a total value of around US$700 million.

Among them, the China-aided Two Bridges Project in Manila, Philippine-Sino Center for Agricultural Technology-Technical Cooperation Program Phase III and Chico River Pump Irrigation Project are expected to be completed within this year.

Another US$400 million project, namely Safe Philippines Project Phase I, will see the loan application signed soon and break grounds in a short time.

Four major infrastructure projects worth US$ 2.3 billion, including the Samal Island-Davao City Connector Project, have signed the commercial contracts and are under the loan negotiation. A list of pipeline projects worth billions of US dollars are currently under the Philippine internal review and bidding process.

In terms of financial cooperation, China has been supporting the Philippines in raising funds through bilateral and multilateral channels. It is estimated that major Chinese financial institutions since 2016 have granted credit facility at the amount equivalent to around US$3.4 billion to Filipino enterprises, underwritten the Philippine government securities worth around US$1.1 billion, and invested in the Philippine government securities worth around US$300 million.

As the largest shareholder, China has supported the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) in approving nearly US$1.3 billion loans to the Philippines for infrastructure improvement and COVID-19 response.

As a major shareholder, China has supported the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in financing the Philippines with around US$26.5 billion cumulatively to conduct projects in education, health care, infrastructure, etc.

Since the outbreak of the pandemic, ADB has provided the Philippines with additional funds of US$2.4 billion to combat the virus.

China has also joined hands with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to provide financial assistance to the Philippines and other Asia-Pacific countries under the South-South Cooperation Assistance Fund.

Ladies and gentlemen,

In the past five years, with the commitment to peace and friendship, our two countries have continuously deepened pragmatic cooperation, properly handled maritime disputes, and brought tangible benefits to our peoples. Over the past year, we have fought against the pandemic together and pushed forward the practical cooperation against headwinds.

Our partnership in the new era has been endowed with a stronger foundation, a richer content and a finer quality.

I believe all of these would help the Filipinos know who their real friends and reliable partners are. I also believe that, as long as we make concerted efforts, the post-pandemic bilateral relations will release more potentials and achieve greater results. For this common goal, we hope the attendees today could actively contribute your advice and wisdom to this forum and then shed light on our future development.

Thank you all!