Diplomatic ties between the Philippines and China formally started in 1975, but the partnership between the two countries dates several centuries back with trade and cultural exchanges flourishing between their peoples.
Since the ancient times, Chinese citizens have come to the Philippines, some for trade, others to settle down and raise their families. This has contributed to further deepening the cultural ties between the two nations’ citizens. Through the formalization of the two countries’ bilateral relations, collaboration has expanded to include political/security and regional cooperation, investment, agriculture, and tourism, among others.
To date, China remains as one of our major trading partners. It is the country’s top trading partner in 2020 with a total trade worth $31 billion, or 19.8 percent of the total trade. It is also among the top ten providers of official development assistance (ODA) to the country. As of 2020, cumulative ODA commitments (loans and grants) from China is at $620.74 million.
China has also expressed support to the Duterte Administration’s “Build, Build, Build” program. In fact, two bridge projects have been made possible through grants from the Government of China: the Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge and the Binondo-Intramuros Bridge, which are part of the DPWH’s EDSA Decongestion Program.
Last July, the Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge was already opened to traffic. The 506-meter bridge connects Makati City at Estrella Street and Mandaluyong City at Barangka Drive.
Prior to its completion, this project was a favorite topic of critics, who did nothing but spread fake news. But the lies did not hinder us from doing what was urgently needed. It was necessary to replace the bridge as it has already exceeded its maximum intended capacity. Its utilization rate was already five times more than its actual capacity.
Now, we can confidently say that the new Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge will provide a safer route for Filipinos for at least two decades. Moreover, at least 9,000 vehicles per day are now being diverted to this bridge from the adjacent Makati-Mandaluyong and Guadalupe bridges, thus, contributing to a more efficient traffic flow.
By the first quarter of next year, we are also expecting the completion of the Binondo-Intramuros Bridge that will connect two important places in our culture and history: Intramuros (on Solana Street and Riverside Drive) and Binondo (on San Fernando Bridge). There will also be a viaduct structure over Estero de Binondo and the bridge will be equipped with pedestrian infrastructure. New seismic specifications and the impact of climate change were taken into consideration in designing the bridge.
As Intramuros and Binondo are both famous tourist spots in Manila, the bridge is also seen to contribute to local tourism because it will enhance the view of the riverine area and the design of the arch bridge itself will already be a sight to behold.
The bridge will greatly contribute to cutting travel time between the two busy districts. It will also substantially relieve traffic congestion in the area as it will help divert about 30,000 vehicles per day from adjacent bridges, Roxas Jr. Bridge and Jones Bridge.