China to Sink $3.7 Billion in Philippines Infrastructure
China has agreed on bilateral cooperation with the Philippines on 30 projects worth $3.7 billion much of it focused on infrastructure.
The agreement was reached after a meeting between China’s Commerce Minister and the Philippines’ Finance Secretary, who led a cabinet three-day delegation to Beijing, accoording to a report in the South China Morning Post.
The Finance Secretary was quoted by Reuters as saying the investments would include some large projects in rural areas as well as some smaller joint investments.
Other reports indicate that the projects could include cooperation on infrastructure projects such as the North-South railway line as well as the Mindanao and Subic-Clark lines, according to the Philippine Department of Finance.
Also under discussion were 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 (ASEAN), said a statement from the Department of Finance.
These developments are emblemmatic of changes in the bilateral China-Philippines relations that began after Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte took office in June. The Philippines has been a historical ally of the United States and the relationship between China and the Philippines have had their strains over the years due to a territorial dispute in the South China Sea.
China claims exclusive territorial rights over most of the area as defined by the so-called nine-dash line that the Chinese draw on maps to delineate their claims. In July 2016, a United Nations arbitration panel in the Hague ruled in favor of the Philippines in a case that nation brought against China over claims in the South China Sea. China boycotted the proceedings and denied the validity of the tribunal’s decision. The dispute at one point led to a standoff between Philippine marines and Chinese naval and law enforcement vessels.
The two countries have since set up negotiations in an effort to resolve those disputes.
Duterte has taken a Beijing-friendly approach and has turned a hostile confrontation between the two countries into a growing commercial alliance.
Chinese Officials pledged $15 billion in investments 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 program.
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