The Central Government’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) will create employment for up to 21,000 people in the Philippines, Secretary for Administration and Justice Sónia Chan Hoi Fan said on Wednesday.

Chan also pointed out that the 2nd Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation was successfully held in Beijing in April, where Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte had “fruitful meetings” with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang.

Chan noted that on the sidelines of the forum, 19 agreements with Chinese companies were signed, adding that if all the agreements are implemented, they could bring US$12 billion worth of investments to the Philippines and provide employment for up to 21,000 Filipinos.

Chan made the remarks in a speech at the 121st Anniversary of the Proclamation of Philippine Independence reception yesterday at Clube Militar.

Chan underlined that 2019 is a year full of celebrations for Macau as it marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the 20th anniversary of Macau’s return to the motherland.

Chan also underlined that with the strong support of the central government, the Macau Special Administrative Region (MSAR) has been blessed with “unprecedented opportunities” for participating in the central government’s national development blueprint.

Chan further underlined that the “Outline Development Plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area” (GBA) promulgated in February “signifies a new milestone” in the collaboration among the three places.

Chan noted that as one of the four core cities of the GBA, Macau will continue “leveraging its comparative advantages” to drive economic growth and share the benefits resulting from the cooperation with “all parities”.

Philippine Consul-General Lilybeth Deapera referred in her speech to what Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi once said about Sino-Philippine cooperation in all areas including the further exploration of “synergies” between the Philippines’ “Build Build Build” programme and China’s “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI).

According to Manila Bulletin newspaper, the “Build, Build, Build” programme is the Duterte administration’s medium-term goal to increase infrastructure spending from 5.4 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2017 to 7.3 percent by the end of Duterte’s current term in 2022.

Rodrigo Duterte has been the Philippines’ head of state since June 2016.

Deapera stressed that people-to-people exchanges “play a big role” in the Philippine-Macau relations, adding that the tourists from her country continue to rank among Macau’s top 10 visitor source markets.

Deapera underlined that in the first quarter of 2019, over 92,000 Filipinos visited and experienced the “unique charm” of Macau.

Filipinos make up Macau’s biggest foreign community. At the end of April, 32,166 non-resident workers from the Philippines worked in Macau, according to official statistics.