By Charmaine A. Tadalan
CHINESE PRESIDENT Xi Jinping’s visit to the Philippines in November is seen to strengthen relations between the two countries, House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said.
“I expect President Xi’s visit to further strengthen relations between our two countries. Our evolving relationship is part of a history that dates back to previous leaders of our two countries, so it has a deep foundation,” the Speaker said during her speech at the Boao Forum for Asia in Hong Kong.
“Now, the current status continues to be favorable, because President Rodrigo (R.) Duterte is a friend of China.”
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo said last week Mr. Xi is set to visit the country by the end of November.
The Speaker also highlighted the significance of the country’s ties with China, particularly in infrastructure.
“Infrastructure will be very important for the Philippines in the coming years, and there is no country in the world that matches China’s recent track record and capability in this area,” Ms. Arroyo said.
The Speaker had noted China’s strength in infrastructure was among the keys to its success in boosting its economic growth over the last four decades.
For one, she cited that China, in strengthening its water conservation system, had minimized damages caused by natural disaster, which helped develop its agricultural sector.
Further, Ms. Arroyo said it is important for the country to build stronger relations with China, considering it is becoming the world’s largest economy.
“China’s economy remains the most dynamic and fast growing among the major nations, and will soon become the largest economy in the world, so of course, it is good to be friends with China,” Ms. Arroyo said.
Moreover, the Speaker raised China’s role in driving the world economy through its Belt and Road Initiative, which she compared to a hardware to mobilize trade agreements.
“Trade and investments relationships, such as those governed by regional agreements like the RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership), are like the software that provide a framework for world trade and investments to thrive; But we also need the hardware, and this is where the Belt and Road Initiative comes in to provide the brick and mortar infrastructures without which international trade and investments cannot flourish,” she said.
The RCEP is a proposed mega free trade agreement among ASEAN states and six Asia-Pacific states, including China.