By Herman Tiu Laurel

PH-China 'Golden Age' harvest

January 16, 2023, 6:33 pm

On his third day back in Manila from the state visit, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. 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. He said “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 (PCO), Chinese investors have pledged USD22.8 billion in investments , including USD1.72 billion for agribusiness, USD13.76 billion for renewable energy, USD7.32 billion for strategic projects like electric vehicles, mineral processing and nickel processing joint venture as a 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 PCO 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.”

The visit saw the sunrise of durian exports as China opened up its huge market to the Philippines’ “queen fruit of the south”. The Department of Agriculture (DA) and China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs also signed the 2023-2025 agricultural and fisheries cooperation plan and agreed on the handover certificate of the Philippine-Sino Center for Agricultural Technology-Technological Cooperation Phase III (PHILSCAT-TCP III).

The Philippines 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 for cooperation on digital and information and communications technology (ICT) cooperation.

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.

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 list 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.

In education, 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 were agreed upon. 

People-to-people exchanges in promoting understanding were not missed as evidence by the newly signed 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 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 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 Nov. 11, 2022, and encouraging the progress towards the early conclusion of an effective and substantive Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.

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. 

Editor’s note: The opinions expressed in the foregoing article are solely the author’s and do not reflect the opinions and beliefs of the Philippine News Agency (PNA) or any other office under the Presidential Communications Office.


About the Columnist

Image of Herman Tiu Laurel

Herman Tiu Laurel is a veteran journalist and founder of think tank PHILIPPINE-BRICS Strategic Studies.