MANILA -- The Philippines and China are firming up financing agreements for infrastructure projects under the government’s “Build, Build, Build” program in time for Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Manila by the end of the year, Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua said.

“We are working (on) over a dozen projects. It depends whether we can achieve our mutual agreement but we are making a series of preparations for that. I hope we can reach agreement on any infrastructure project as possible,” he told the Philippines News Agency (PNA) Thursday night.

Zhao said the two sides are pushing forward more major infrastructure projects, estimated at around USD7 billion to USD8 billion in soft loans.

“The term is 20 years with seven years grace period. The interest rate in dollar terms is 2 percent. I think this is for the credit buyers’ soft loan, it’s preferential,” he added.

At the reception to celebrate the 69th founding anniversary of the People's Republic of China, Zhao identified some of these projects as the New Centennial Water Source-Kaliwa Dam, Subic-Clark Railway, Philippine National Railways South Long Haul, and the Safe Philippines.

Funded by China’s grants or soft loans, the ambassador said drug-rehabilitation centers, two bridges over Pasig River and Chico River Pump Irrigation Project have already broke ground.

“China attaches great importance to synergizing the BRI (Belt and Road Initiative) and AmBisyon Natin 2040 as well as “Build, Build, Build” Plan of the Philippines. Considerable progress has been made in this regard,” he said.

Ambisyon Natin is the Philippine government’s 25-year long-term vision for growth and development.

BRI aims to strengthen infrastructure, trade, and investment links between China and some 65 other countries that account collectively for over 30 percent of global gross domestic product (GDP), 62 percent of population, and 75 percent of known energy reserves.

“In the meantime, we are also considering to provide additional grants to finance some infrastructure projects and livelihood programs in the Philippines,” Zhao added.

Meanwhile, the ambassador said he is “quite optimistic” about the future of China-Philippines relationship.

“I think we have this consensus to make sure that our relationships will be continued to be based on mutual respect, mutual benefit,” Zhao added. “You see they are coming into the Philippines in terms of trade, in terms of investments, in terms of tourists. So the momentum is good.” (PNA)