By Glee Jalea/Manila Times
The Philippines should welcome business plans of interested Chinese investors without restrictions, House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo said yesterday.
Speaking as a Board member of the Boao Forum for Asia Manila Conference in Taguig City, Arroyo added that China was a development partner of the Philippines, not a competitor.
“Bilateral ties between the Philippines and China have reached new heights in recent years, and this is evident in the Philippines and in China becoming the Philippines’ No 1 partner in trade,” she said in her speech.
The speaker noted that the economic and trade co-operation between the two countries “is as good as it has ever been” in the wake of a state visit of President Xi Jinping to the Philippines last November to establish a relationship of a “comprehensive strategic cooperation” with President Rodrigo Duterte.
“The Philippines has to exert maximum effort to remove on-the-ground bottlenecks that impede implementation of projects that involve trade and investment groups from China,” Arroyo said.
The two-day conference brought together approximately 300 participants, including business leaders from China and the Philippines and some executives from Chinese enterprises in the country.
According to Arroyo, Eliseo Rio, secretary of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) previously co-ordinated with the Chinese firms in their business proposals.
“There were three who had specific questions and they presented their business plans to our secretary of DICT, Secretary Rio, intently and enthusiastically answered and at the end of each question, we realised that all their business plans did not have any restrictions on foreign investments,” she said.
“And we hope that is the way your business plans will also end up. Welcome without restrictions,” Arroyo added.
Despite the low trust of Filipinos in China amid controversies at present, Arroyo noted that the forum would bring huge investments to the country.
“All I know is that this (forum) will help bring investments and bring technology, because that’s all the Filipinos want from China, capital and technology,” she told reporters in a chance interview.
In a recent nationwide survey conducted from March 28 to 31 by pollster Social Weather Stations, Filipinos continued to have a “neutral” trust rating for China.
Critics had been calling out the Duterte administration for its soft stance on Beijing and for preferring to cultivate economic ties with a country that he considers “a good friend,” despite an ongoing dispute between Manila and Beijing over the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea).
Labour Secretary Silvestre Bello 3rd previously said authorities were already deployed to Boracay in Aklan to check the compliance status of at least 47 Chinese-owned establishments that had been set up since the island reopened last October after its six-month rehabilitation.
Government officials had also raised concerns over an influx of Chinese workers and numerous China-funded projects competing with local labour and employment opportunities in many areas of Metro Manila.
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