THE PHILIPPINES
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Rodrigo Duterte

China and Philippines agree to cooperate on 30 projects worth US$3.7b

Agreement comes as part of a visit to Beijing by cabinet-level delegation from Manila

PUBLISHED : Monday, 23 January, 2017, 3:16pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 24 January, 2017, 5:07am

Beijing has agreed on ­bilateral cooperation with Manila on 30 projects worth US$3.7 billion, ­including ones for infrastructure and poverty alleviation.

The agreement was reached after a meeting between Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng and Philippine Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, who has been leading a cabinet delegation on its three-day visit to Beijing.

Gao announced the deals without giving details, saying this “initial batch” of projects still needed to be finalised and then processed by the banks involved.

Dominguez said he had a “very productive” meeting with Gao, and that they had discussed large projects in rural areas as well as some smaller bilateral undertakings, according to a report from Reuters.

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Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said recent visits by Philippine delegations had reflected a stronger mutual trust between the two countries.

“Recently, officials of different departments in the Philippine government have sent their delegations to visit China, and have launched cooperation with China on areas such as the economy and trade, infrastructure and energy,” Hua said yesterday.

“This has reflected the stronger mutual trust and deepening cooperation between the two countries.”

Hua declined to provide more details on the projects under discussion, but said China had been active in supporting the Philippine leadership in rebuilding that country’s economy.

While in Beijing, the Philippine officials are also due to hold separate meetings with Vice­-Premier Wang Yang and National Development and ­Reform Commission chairman Xu Shaoshi.

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Wang told the Philippine delegation that the two countries were friends and that there was enormous potential to develop trade and business ties, state news agency Xinhua said.

The meetings would cover cooperation on infrastructure projects such as the North-South railway line as well as the Min­danao and Subic-Clark lines, the Philippine Department of ­Finance said yesterday.

Officials would also discuss some already proposed projects for bilateral financing and feasibility studies as well as the chairmanship by the Philippines this year of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the department’s statement said.

Bilateral relations took a dramatic turn after Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte took office in June.

China and the Philippines have seen their relations strained over the years because of a territorial dispute in the South China Sea.

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But Duterte’s Beijing-friendly approach has turned a hostile confrontation between the two countries into a nascent commercial alliance.

Beijing has welcomed Duterte’s foreign policy shift away from traditional ally the United States, and towards doing more regional deals and business with China.

Officials pledged US$15 billion in investment in the Philippines during Duterte’s visit to China in October, according to the Philippine Department of Finance.

Duterte is due to visit Beijing again in May for a forum on China’s “One Belt, One Road” infrastructure scheme.