The Philippines is set to receive a grant worth P4 billion (RMB550 million) from China to help fund an infrastructure project and support the rehabilitation program for drug addicts, announced a top Chinese diplomat. The assistance would be given for the construction of two bridges across the Pasig River, said Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua.
“We are going to make the two bridges not only more convenient for transportation but we would also like to make them iconic symbols of Philippines-China relationship,” Zhao said. “The Department of Public Works and Highways is working to prepare and get the conditions ready for construction. Both sides have the sense of urgency to do it as quickly as possible,” he added.
Another RMB50 million would be provided for the construction of two drug rehabilitation centers with a capacity of 150 beds each in Mindanao, Zhao said.
Zhao stressed that the two countries’ general economic relationship includes more infrastructure projects, following China’s signing of a $1.7-billion purchase agreement of agricultural products from the Philippines. To further highlight the renewed relationship between the two countries, a high level Chinese government official came for a four-day visit on invitation of the Philippine government.
Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang met President Duterte and also held talks with the country’s economic managers in Davao City and addressed the opening ceremonies of the China-ASEAN Year of Tourism and the China-Philippines Economic and Trade Forum.
“This is the highest level official visit (from China) ever since President Duterte took office. And this purchasing ceremony is a warming up activity for his visit,” Zhao said.
Philippines and China recently reconvened their Joint Commission on Economic and Trade Cooperation after a five-year hiatus brought about by the territorial disputes in the West Philippine Sea. The 28th Philippines-China JCETC meeting in Manila saw Minister Zhong Shan on his first official trip as the leader of China’s Ministry of Commerce.
Wang’s visit takes place amid concerns by the Department of National Defense over Chinese survey ships that have conducted oceanographic research at Recto or Reed Bank in the West Philippine Sea and also at Benham Rise in the Pacific. Benham Rise has been recognized by the United Nations as part of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry said China-Philippines relations have made a turnaround.
“We have seen an upward momentum in the development of China-Philippines relations, as the two countries deepen their political mutual trust, conduct practical cooperation across the board and resume dialogue and cooperation on maritime issues, delivering tangible benefits to the people of both countries and facilitating regional peace and stability,” the ministry said.