Interview: Friendly economic ties with China is “paramount” for Philippines: senior Philippine official

by Xinhua writers Xia Fan, Yan Hao, Tai Beiping / Originally Posted at Xinhua

HONG KONG, Oct. 7 (Xinhua) — The Philippines and China, which have enjoyed longstanding historical ties, should cooperate in various fields such as economy, trade, energy and infrastructure despite South China Sea disputes, a senior Philippine official has said.

Martin Andanar, Philippine presidential communications operations office secretary, made the comments in a recent exclusive interview with Xinhua here while on a short visit to Hong Kong.

The Philippines and China can provide each other with lots of opportunities for cooperation in areas such as economy, trade, investment, energy, infrastructure, tourism and manpower, he said.

Noting that friendly economic ties with China are “paramount” for the Philippines, Andanar especially described economic and trade cooperation with China, the world’s second largest economy, as a “no-brainer,” considering the fact that the two countries are just a stone’s throw away.

The Philippines is also in need of infrastructure such as highways, railways, energy and Internet; China can offer valuable expertise and investments in these regards, he said.

Andanar called for more direct investments from China, which he said will be a big push for the economic development of a developing country like the Philippines.

“When you have foreign direct investment, building manufacturing companies in the Philippines, we give jobs to our people, so it becomes inclusive growth, not only hot money coming in and going out,” he said.

With regard to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s possible visit to China, the Philippine presidential communications operations office secretary said trade and industry cooperation should be high on agenda.

Duterte’s trip to Beijing, if coming true, will be the first visit of President Duterte to an East Asian country, Andanar said, calling the two countries “brothers more than anything else” because of the shared long “blood ties” in history between the two countries.

As for the Philippine government’s anti-drug drive, Andanar said the reason why Duterte has been conducting such a campaign is because of the magnitude of the problem in the Philippines, which has virtually turned the country into a “narco-state,” severely affecting law and order.

He also noted that the Philippine government is happy with China’s assistance in the country’s anti-drug efforts and he appealed for more intelligence sharing in the fight against illegal drugs between the two countries.

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