Barely a week has passed since the spectacular state visit of President Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos, Jr. into the open arms of China and the warm and brotherly handshake of President Xi Jinping. Yet the steady stream of good news from the “strongest partnership” of the two nations has become a bumper harvest of economic benefits for the Philippines.
China-Philippines bilateral trade had already increased by 8.3%, reaching 80.41-billion from January to November of 2022, ,dwarfing the second and third top trading partners of the Philippines. With the recent state visit of President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. to China, this trade status is poised to boom even more.
On his third day back in Manila from the state visit, President Marcos t announced that “… at the very least, close to 10,000 to 30,000 jobs…” will be created with the awaited new investments and Chinese-assisted projects in the Philippines. “It’s certainly going to produce many jobs when the investments come into play, when they start their operations…”
As announced by the Presidential Communications Office (PCOO), in meetings between the Philippines government and business delegations and their Chinese counterparts during the state visit, Chinese investors have pledged $ 22.8-billion in investments , including $1.72-bilion for agribusiness, $ 13.76-bilionfor renewable energy, $ 7.32-billion for strategic projects like electric vehicles, mineral processing,
In connection with the pivotal initiative for the electric vehicle project, the nickel processing joint venture is strategic as it will increase the value-added domestic component of Philippine nickel production a large part of which already goes to China today. It will be the first step in the production chain to batteries and electric vehicles.
Eagerly awaited by the Philippines since the start of 2022 is news on the fertilizer supply arrangements in view of the food crisis besetting the country. The PCOO announced that two Chinese fertilizer companies have signed cooperation agreements with the Philippine International Trading Corp. (PITC) to “ensure sustainable supply of much-needed fertilizers at reasonable prices.”
No report on the Marcos-Xi achievements at the state visit would be complete without the good news about the “Durian dawn”, the sunrise of Durian exports as President Xi Jinping has opened up China’s huge market to the Philippines’ “queen fruit of the south”. Since it takes seven to eight years for Durian to bear fruit, the Philippines has a lot of planting to do to meet the huge demand.
The two countries opened the “Durian Dawn” after the DA and China’s General Administration of Customs reached agreement on a protocol of phytosanitary requirements for the export of fresh durians from the Philippines to China between.. Likewise, in fisheries, the two countries agreed to establish better communications make sure there will be no hindrance to Filipino fisheries in traditional fishing grounds..
The Department of Agriculture (DA) and China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs also signed a joint action plan for 2023-2025 on agricultural and fisheries cooperation and also agreed on the handover certificate of the Philippine-Sino Center for Agricultural Technology-Technological Cooperation Phase III (PHILSCAT-TCP III) that was established in the year 2000.
The Philippine and China signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to cooperate on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) even as the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and the Philippines’ Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) signed another MOU between for cooperation non digital and information and communications technology (ICT) cooperation.
Also in connection with the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the visit sealed the handover certificate of two China-assisted bridge projects in Manila, the Binondo-Intramuros bridge and the Estrella-Pantaleon bridge. Both completed infrastructure projects symbolize the delivery of the many commitments of China made in 2016 under the first package of BRI projects.
Both countries agreed on a framework agreement for the Renminbi-portion of loan financing for three priority projects of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), as well as
four loan agreements for the mixed-credit financing (US Dollar and Renminbi) of three priority bridge projects under the public works department
Guaranteed to boost the Philippine post-pandemic economic rebound is the MOU on tourism between the Philippines’ Department of Tourism (DOT) and the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of China. Before it was interrupted by the Covid 19 crisis, Chinese tourist volume to the Philippines had surged from 1.25-million in 2018 to 1.8-million. With the MOU, the Philippines is targeting 4-million tourist arrivals by 2024.
Both countries sealed MOUs between the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Ministry of Commerce of China on cooperation on electronic commerce;; while the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) and China’s International Development Cooperation Agency signed another MOU on economic and technical cooperation in the Development Cooperation Plan 2023-2025 in.
The long list of agreements also includes mutual recognition between the General Administration of Customs of China and the Bureau of Customs (BOC) of the Philippines on an authorized economic operator program, and the establishment of a communication mechanism on maritime issues between the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) of the Philippines and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China.
Since the Bilateral Consultation Mechanism (BCM) established in 2016 between the two governments needed enhancement, direct lines of communications on maritime issues were set up between the Department of Boundary and Ocean Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China and the Maritime and Ocean Affairs Office of the Department of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines.
Practical cooperation between the coast guards of the two countries is particularly useful, hence the importance of convening the 4th Meeting of the Joint Coast Guard Committee at an early date. At the same time, both sides agreed to convene the Annual Defense Security Talks at a mutually convenient time to greatly increase cooperation and harmony in the seas.
The two countries also agreed upon close collaboration to strengthen maritime cooperation in such areas as environmental protection and maritime economy and on the mitigation of marine debris and micro plastics emanating from various sources, and establish a cooperative partnership between coastal model cities of the two countries.
Education was also on the agenda, reaffirming strengthened cooperation and consensus building to bring about greater understanding between Chinese and Filipino youth and professionals, Future MOUs will likely be signed in training and education i cooperation, namely:
Incorporation of the Chinese Language Education Program into the Basic Education Program of the Philippines, a Memorandum of Understanding to Strengthen Agricultural Technical Education Cooperation, and a Mutual Cooperation Memorandum (MCM) on Higher Education to enhance communication and ensure mutual quality development of higher education system.
People-to-people exchanges in promoting understanding were not missed as evidence by the newly-signed I MOU on Tourism Cooperation as well as direct flights between China and the Philippines, particularly Beijing and Manila, and other cities to strengthen local cooperation and promote more exchanges among sister provinces and cities of the two countries.
In STI (science and technology), both sides agreed to explore potential cooperation in such areas as meteorology, space tracking, telemetry and command (TT&C), and expressed their mutual willingness to establish an information notification system on rocket launches and, in response to a recent incident, develop procedures for the retrieval and return of space debris.
Joint cooperation to address COVID-19 addressed the procurement of vaccines, as well as further efforts to promote public health cooperation in such areas as vaccine research and production. Both sides expressed support for the ASEAN Center for Public Health Emergency and Emergency Diseases.
The two countries agreed to strengthen China-ASEAN cooperation under the current Comprehensive Strategic Partnership and implement the consensus of the China-ASEAN Special Summit to Commemorate the 30th Anniversary of China-ASEAN Dialogue Relations. In this agreement, the Philippines took note of China’s initiative to build a peaceful, safe and secure, prosperous, beautiful, and amicable reginal(?) home.
The important Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) was re-affirmed, thereby recalling the Joint Statement on the 20th Anniversary of the DOC adopted in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on 11 November 2022, and encourages the progress towards the early conclusion of an effective and substantive Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.
ASEAN centrality was reaffirmed, especially in the evolving regional architecture in the Asia-Pacific region, as well as support for ASEAN integration and Community building. Both sides will continue to strengthen cooperation at such multilateral for a as the United Nations, and make joint efforts to safeguard the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter and consultation on human rights issues.
China also welcomed the Philippine recent decision to participate in the Group of Friends of the Global Development Initiative (GDI) advanced by President Xi Jinping at the UN, as the two countries stand ready to strengthen cooperation to implement the GDI at bilateral and regional levels to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The two countries likewise the conduct of robust consultations and communication to explore possible cooperation for the mutual benefit regarding the Global Security Initiative (GSI).
Last and of utmost importance is the spirit of the Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation on Oil and Gas Development between the Government of the People’s Republic of China and the Government of the Republic of Philippines. Signed in 2018, the MOU is the mutual agreement of the two states to resume discussions on oil and gas development as well as to explore cooperation in such areas as solar-power, wind energy, electric vehicles, and nuclear energy for electricity generation. This exhausting list of achievements from the three-day state visit of President Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos, Jr. stand out as an impressive achievement of the Philippine government in the ever-growing spirit of cooperation with China and President Xi Jinping, thus ensuring the “golden age” in the blossoming relations between the two nations. It is certain now that the pyramid of successes continues to build towards higher and higher historic triumphs between the two countries.