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Philippines' Tactical Realignment Delivers Infrastructure Windfall

Updated:2017-4-1 16:31:14    Source:TannetViews:251

Signalling the start of this China-Philippines infrastructure initiative, the Philippine government and a number of public and private Chinese agencies recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). This commits the various parties to a far-reaching infrastructure-development programme, one designed to improve mobility and development across the various regions of the country with a particular focus on the island of Mindanao. Among the priorities identified are enhancing ship-passenger connectivity and cargo handling, providing solutions to Metro Manila's worsening traffic situation and helping to remedy the country's current internal transport problems.

The eagerness of China to invest in the country was underlined by the recent visit to Manila by a number of senior mainland officials. It is believed that the delegation – which included a Vice-governor of the state-owned China Development Bank and a Vice-president of the similarly state-owned China National Technical Import and Export Corporation – discussed the possibility of developing the port facilities of Manila, Cebu and Davao. The latter is one of the principal cities of Mindanao and was Duterte's former mayoral seat.

Commenting on the success of the visit, Red Romero, the Vice-chairman of R-II Builders, the Manila-based construction company that manages the Centre, said: "While this is not the first time we have entertained a Chinese delegation, this group was far more enthused about the project than any previous Chinese visitors."

The new facility – billed as Cebu International Port – will extend across an 85-hectare expanse on the shores of the town of Consolacion. Among its proposed resources is a 1,200-metre-long berthing facility.

In terms of added connectivity, the Cebu Provincial Government has announced it is seeking Chinese backers for its Trans-axial Highway Project. As well as a 280-kilometre road connecting the northern and southern tips of Cebu, the project's remit extends to a seven-kilometre-long seaport, a 550-hectare reclamation project for Talisay-Minglanilla-Naga and four economic zones in Cebu's Second to Fifth districts.

For China's part, its interest in the Philippines was rekindled only after Duterte's administration softened its stance over the controversial South China Sea issue. While the administration may still not view China as an entirely friendly neighbour, it is clearly eager to benefit from its largesse as the Philippines looks to develop its own local infrastructure.

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