BEIJING—Philippine Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III and Chinese Commerce Minister Zhong Shan have underscored the remarkable progress made in enhancing bilateral relations between Manila and Beijing as both expressed optimism over the “pragmatic cooperation” between the two countries becoming even stronger in the coming years.
Dominguez said that over the past two years under the leadership of President Duterte, the Philippines has seen its relationship with China growing “closer and more comprehensive.”
He also thanked China for the “generous support it has extended to the (Philippines’) ambitious effort to modernize its infrastructure and build a more competitive economy.”
“We look forward to implementing more strategic infrastructure projects supported by highly concessional financing from China,” Dominguez said during a dinner-meeting held Tuesday last week at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse here between officials of the two countries to discuss the status of the Philippines’ priority projects being rolled out with funding assistance from China.
Zhong, for his part, said he sees “enormous room for future cooperation between our two countries” and said China is “more than happy to enhance (its) pragmatic cooperation with the Philippines in a broader area and at a high level.”
He said that following the consensus reached between President Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping, China and the Philippines have seen “huge progress” in their bilateral relations and their “political mutual trust continuously increasing,” along with frequent people-to-people exchanges.
“It’s fair to say our pragmatic trade and economic cooperation has embarked on a new stage. We have huge development either in terms of trade or in terms of investments .... I can see enormous potential for our cooperation moving forward as long as we work together,” Zhong said during the meeting.
Zhong also welcomed President Duterte’s decision to attend the 2nd Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation set next month in this city, saying that a future meeting with President Xi “is going to help us reach more consensus and help elevate our cooperation to another high level.”
In response, Dominguez said the Philippines is “earnestly looking forward” to actively participating in the Belt and Road forum, which, he said, “will be a major catalyst for more comprehensive international collaboration” aimed at creating a better future for economies across the globe.
“We appreciate China’s Belt and Road Infrastructure Program that will more closely link the economies of Asia and Europe. This program will shape the future of this century and the next century,” Dominguez said.
Zhong expressed willingness in increasing the imports of Philippine goods to China and assured his guests that the Chinese market remains open to Filipino entrepreneurs.
He also pledged to encourage more Chinese companies to invest in the Philippines and “to continuously increase our help and assistance to the Philippines on the economic front.”
In a courtesy call on China Vice President Wang Qishan earlier that day, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea noted that the regular meetings to discuss economic cooperation between the two countries have “produced significant milestones.”
During a press briefing the following day, Dominguez said the Philippines-China meeting on infrastructure cooperation focused on discussing the terms of future Official Development Assistance (ODA) financing by China for President Duterte’s centerpiece program “Build, Build, Build.”
“The discussions were very productive and we are looking forward to the next meeting in about three to four months,” said Dominguez.
The Philippines-China high-level meeting to discuss economic cooperation between the two countries, was the fifth to be held since it was first convened in 2017.