Locsin, economic delegation begin key meetings in Beijing

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Teodoro Locsin, Jr. and Wang Yi
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (R) and Philippine Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. attend a news conference after talks at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, China on March 20. -- REUTERS

FOREIGN Affairs Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin, Jr. has arrived in Beijing for a four-day visit to China, accompanying a Philippine economic delegation seeking to firm up financing for infrastructure projects.

In a statement issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Wednesday, Mr. Locsin, along with economic managers and Executive Secretary Salvador C. Medialdea, met with Chinese Vice-President Wang Qishan. Mr. Locsin also meet with his counterpart, Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

The DFA said economic managers were led by Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III, who is also in China for the Philippine Economic Briefing. Mr. Dominguez briefed Mr. Wang on the progress of infrastructure projects funded by China.

According to a separate statement by the Department of Finance (DoF), Mr. Dominguez said progress has been made on China-funded infrastructure projects under the “Build, Build, Build” program

“We have been meeting with the Ministry of Commerce of China (MofCom) for the past two years, and we have made a lot of progress with our actual official development assistance relations with China,” the Finance Secretary was quoted as saying during the meeting.

“We want to assure you that the funds provided by the Chinese people through the Chinese government are going to be used to the benefit of the Filipino people,” he added.

China is funding, through grant, the Binondo-Intramuros and Estrella-Pantaleon Bridges to address traffic in Metro Manila. It also provided a concessional loan for the $62.09-million Chico River Pump Irrigation Project and $211.21-million New Centennial Water Source-Kaliwa Dam.

The Finance Secretary also said the Davao-Samal Bridge Project in Mindanao and the Panay-Guimaras-Negros Inter-island Bridge in Western Visayas are in the pipeline for possible Chinese funding.

Aside from Mr. Dominguez, the DoF said Public Works Secretary Mark A. Villar, Transportation Secretary Arthur P. Tugade, Interior Local Government Secretary Eduardo M. Año, Budget Department Officer-in-Charge Janet B. Abuel, National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Undersecretary Jonathan L. Uy, and Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) President and Chief Executive Officer Vivencio B. Dizon were present at the courtesy call paid to the Chinese Vice President.

The DFA said Mr. Wang “reaffirmed China’s commitment to further strengthening bilateral relations with the Philippines through cooperation for common development on the basis of mutual understanding and trust.”

Mr. Locsin relayed to the Chinese Vice-President his “admiration for the hard work and talent of the Chinese people, which are the foundations of China’s phenomenal economic development.”

Mr. Locsin, in his meeting with Mr. Wang, was quoted as saying in the statement: “I speak for my country which wants to see much to hope for, and nothing to fear from the rise of a new power. And along with it a new world where the ambition of one to rise higher and get richer is best advanced by helping others to rise and prosper in tandem with her.”

“To put it in concrete terms, without the new China, there will be no prospect whatsoever for the developing world to grow into emerging economies. We would still be, as throughout the second half of the last century we were, at the mercy of Western markets which, on a whim can turn us away — as they did throughout the post- and neo-colonial period,” he added.

He said two officials sat together to discuss the accomplishments of the two countries, the differences that have yet to be resolved, and “the need to set them aside” for the future direction of a “mutually beneficially relationship.”

“We spoke of regional issues and international commitments; and the parts our countries play in the world by choice or necessity. Our two countries’ mutual respect is best shown by our shared refusal to take part in outside attempts to take advantage of each one’s internal problems; these are best and rightly left to national solutions,” he said. — Camille A. Aguinaldo