By Charmaine A. Tadalan, Reporter
CHINA’S PUSH for innovation and green development in its fifth plenary session expands opportunities for technological development and investments that the Philippines must be ready to capture, an analyst said.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP), led by President Xi Jinping, on Oct. 29 concluded its fifth plenum, which tackled China’s 14th five-year plan that outlines its economic and social development.
“I think we should be in a position to tap China’s economic growth, technological innovation by keeping a good relation with China,” Jaime A. FlorCruz, former chief and correspondent of CNN Beijing bureau, said over telephone on Tuesday.
The CCP aims to make China more technologically self-reliant, according to the communique published on China’s state-owned agency Xinhua.
“China now is saying they want to achieve technological self-sufficiency. That would mean of course, China will have a stronger national security capability because technological innovation means it has connection with the defense capabilities that China can improve,” he said.
The CCP will also be promoting a more sustainable economic and social development, which Mr. FlorCruz said will benefit the Philippines both directly and indirectly.
“We will benefit from a cleaner, greener China but also technologically, if China makes more innovation for green technology, for sustainable energy resources, perhaps we can tap into that, both for technology but also for investment.”
Moreover, China will build stronger domestic demand with structural reforms in the supply-side, in line with the “Dual Circulation” model that was introduced by Mr. Xi.
Mr. FlorCruz said this, in effect, may reduce investments in the Philippines, but will lead to more “sound investments.”
“It might slightly affect investments in the Philippines, that just means they will be more careful, more result-driven, which is in a way good for the Philippines,” he said.
“The Philippines need good, sound investments, we don’t just want investments for quick money, we want Chinese investments for clean energy, sustainable projects, like the belt and road initiative (BRI).”
For Renato C. de Castro, international studies professor at the De La Salle University, the renewed push to move away from export-oriented development may be brought by its rivalry with the United States.
“They need to really boost their economic development. They cannot always be dependent on the international market for growth… now you have US-China strategic competition,” he said in a virtual interview on Sunday.
He said its impact to investments in the Philippines will only be an “unintended consequence.”
Mr. De Castro also said adjustments on the BRI that China may implement will hardly affect the country.
“We haven’t been affected so much by the BRI because money did not come in, despite the promise of Xi Jinping of $24 billion in October 2016… whether China will implement a major change in the BRI, it will hardly affect us.”
Foreign policy expert Richard J. Heydarian, meanwhile, said China’s domestic expansion will not just affect investments, but also tourism and key infrastructure projects in the Philippines.
“For years, I’ve already warned that China’s promise of multi-billion dollar and big-ticket infrastructure projects should be taken with a grain of salt,” he said over the phone on Tuesday.
“Up until today, we see zero big ticket infrastructure projects but I think that trend will further intensify,” he added, noting that agreements with China will likely be more stringent and unfavorable for the Philippines.