PRESIDENT Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Thursday vowed to further strengthen the country’s ties with China, as he congratulated Chinese President Xi Jinping on his reappointment as leader of the Communist Party of China.
In his speech during the groundbreaking of the Samal Island-Davao City Connector bridge project in Davao City, Marcos extended his congratulations to Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Ambassador Huang Xilian “for the successful conduct of the Communist Party Conference.”
Xi’s third term makes him China’s most powerful ruler since founding leader Mao Zedong.
“We look forward to building upon the directions that President Xi Jinping has given to the People’s Republic of China in partnership with the Philippines,” the President said.
“We look forward to continuing, to strengthen and to bring closer our two countries,” he said.
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Marcos also thanked China for being a “dependable partner” in the Philippines’ infrastructure development program.
“This is not the only project that we had depended upon the concessional loans and even grants from the government of the People’s Republic of China, and it is clear to see the benefits that those projects bring to our people, to our economy and to the Philippines,” he said, referring to the Samal-Davao bridge project.
The project is expected to boost tourism and economy in the Davao region, and will be funded through a $350-million (P18.67 billion) loan agreement between the Philippines and China.
The Chinese side will cover 90 percent of the project’s P23.039-billion cost.
In his speech, Huang reiterated China’s commitment to strengthening ties with the Philippines as close neighbors and partners.
“In China’s journey towards China’s modernization, we are willing to work hand in hand with the Philippines for mutual benefit and common development,” he said.
Huang also expressed confidence that the bridge project will not only provide jobs for locals and serve as a landmark in the Davao Region, but also signify a new milestone of the China-Philippine friendship.
He said that “the people of Davao have been dreaming of the bridge since long time ago.”
“Thanks to the care and support of leaders of our two countries, the construction of this flagship project is initiated today. It reflects China’s commitment to the Build Better More program of the Philippine government, and marks a significant milestone of the bilateral cooperation,” Huang said.
He added that Chinese modernization will have a profound impact on the world and benefit mankind.
The envoy said the first 100 days of the Marcos administration resonated with the development method of Chinese modernization.
“China and the Philippines are close neighbors who enjoy complementary development advantages and broad prospects for cooperation,” Huang said.
Marcos earlier said the Philippines will continue to engage China on people to people, economic relationships, and cultural exchanges.
This despite the long-standing maritime dispute between the Philippines and China, which claims almost all of the South China Sea, which overlaps with the West Philippine Sea.
“The position that the Philippines takes is that we have no territorial conflict with China. What we have [is] China claiming territory that belongs to the Philippines,” Marcos said in an interview when he visited New York.
“This is the position we take, and with our American partners, we have promoted that position. We have also made it clear to our friends in Beijing that this is the way we feel about it,” he said.
In 2016, the Philippines scored a victory against China in the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands, when it declared Beijing’s claim over the South China Sea as illegal.
China has refused to recognize the arbitral ruling.