China has proven to be an important partner of the Philippines in Economic Development, a Senior aide of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has said.

The Philippine Presidential Adviser for Flagship Programs and Projects Vivencio Dizon said in an interview this week that China is now “an integral partner” in the Philippines’ infrastructure build up.

Indeed, Dizon said that President Duterte was correct in espousing “a foreign policy that we are friends to all, enemies to none.”

By embracing partners like China other than its traditional partners, Dizon said the Duterte administration has gained a lot especially from building warm relations with China.

“China is an integral partner in our infrastructure build-up,” said Dizon, also the president of the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA).

Already, Dizon said, China has become the country’s largest trading partner. “I think this is a testament to the success of this strategy,” he added, referring to Duterte’s decision to pursue an independent foreign policy.

For example, Dizon said the number of Chinese tourists has “increased exponentially over the last couple of years, bringing in a lot of foreign expenditures from Chinese tourists to the Philippines, boosting our economy.”

BCDA, a Philippine government-owned and controlled corporation, has partnered with Chinese companies on infrastructure projects and business investments

BCDA and China Gezhouba Group Corporation signed a framework of cooperation in November 2018 to develop a 500-hectare mixed-use industrial park in New Clark City in the northern Philippines.

“We believe that bringing in more investments from countries like China will not only provide more employment opportunities but also provide a lot of opportunities for technology transfer in the country and in particular the New Clark City,” Dizon added.

Dizon said China’s Belt & Road Initiative complements with the Duterte administration’s “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program that aims to improve the connectivity of this archipelagic country.

He said infrastructure requires the Philippines to partner and work with countries throughout the world who have been successful in building infrastructure.

“China is obviously one of those countries,” Dizon said. “That’s the reason why we have identified several projects under the Build, Build, Build program wherein China can help and participate in allowing the Philippines not only to raise the needed resources, the needed capital to build these large-scale infrastructure projects but also learn from the experiences of China in building up its infrastructure.”

The “Build, Build, Build” program, rolled out by the Philippine government in 2017, intends to spend 8 to 9 trillion pesos (roughly 160 to 180 billion U.S. dollars) in the medium-term on building roads, bridges, airports, seaports and railways in the Philippines.

“It’s very important for the Philippines to partner with these countries, like China, in order to not only raise the needed resources but also to build the right infrastructure for the country and our people to move forward,” Dizon said.

Editor’s Note: The article reflects the author’s opinion only, and not necessarily the views of editorial opinion of Belt & Road News.