MANILA – Chinese President Xi Jinping committed Thursday to a P7.7-billion (1 billion yuan) grant to the Philippines under its Belt and Road Initiative, Malacañang said.
Beijing’s leader vowed to give the financial grant along with the promise of importing more fruits from Manila during his bilateral meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte, Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said.
Since Duterte sought warmer ties with China, the Asian superpower has increased its imports of Philippine mangoes and pineapples among several other local fruits.
Duterte, who met with Xi Thursday, is in Beijing to attend the second Belt and Road Forum.
Under the ambitious global infrastructure plan, China plans to connect with Africa, Europe, and the rest of Asia through a series of ports, railways, roads, and industrial parks.
The plan, if fully realized, could shape the world economic landscape in the next decades.
“We consider the BRI (Belt and Road Initiative) as articulated by PRRD (President Rodrigo Roa Duterte) as another opportunity to renew and reaffirm our valued relationship, which we must continue to foster in the coming years with an aspiration that our fellow Filipinos will feel the true benefits of the PH-China relations,” Panelo said.
Aside from more fruit imports, the Chinese leader vowed to continue donating rice and fingerlings to the Philippines.
China is also allotting more resources for Luzon and Mindanao to spur economic growth in the said areas, Panelo said.
In Luzon, China is specifically planning to promote Clark Green City in Pampanga by building an industrial park, Panelo added.
Xi also expressed hopes that the Belt and Road Initiative would play an important role in China’s ties with the Southeast Asian region where it faces conflicting claims over parts of the South China Sea.
Panelo earlier said President Duterte raised Manila’s concerns in the South China Sea during the bilateral meeting with Xi.
Duterte has sought closer ties with Asia’s largest economy even as Manila has yet to settle its maritime dispute with Beijing.
China has refused to recognize a United Nations-backed arbitral ruling that invalidated its sweeping claims over the vast majority of the South China Sea.
Recently, the Philippine government has raised concerns over the growing presence of Chinese vessels in the West Philippine Sea – its exclusive economic zone in the vital waterway.
Duterte had just hosted Xi in the Chinese president’s historic state visit to the Philippines in November, where they reaffirmed friendship between the two countries and signed several agreements covering a range of areas. (ABS-CBN News)