'Silk Road' deals behind soft ASEAN stance on China?

ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 01 2017 10:50 PM

The Philippines could be hoping for good deals in China's "New Silk Road" summit, a former Philippine envoy said Monday.

Former Ambassador Apolinario Lozada Jr. said this could be the reason behind Manila leading the Association of Southeast Asian Nations' (ASEAN) soft stance against the economic giant, which has reclaimed several islands in the South China Sea.

"The only thing I can think of is the material exchange of goods that may happen in the Silk Road, which I think we’re not going to have as much as or better than Cambodia and Laos anyway," he said in an interview with ANC's Headstart.

Lozada, however, said he doesn't believe the Philippines will bag deals better than those that could be secured by Singapore and Malaysia.

He said the two countries "have a vibrant relationship with China despite the fact that openly in multilateral negotiations, they openly tell China what they think to protect their national interest."

The "New Silk Road" summit or the "One Belt, One Road" initiative is a landmark program to invest billions of dollars in infrastructure projects including railways, ports, and power grids.

China has dedicated $40 billion to a Silk Road Fund and the idea was the driving force behind the establishment of the $50 billion China-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

Invitation to the summit has been extended to senior Western leaders to fortify the plan's international credentials. Only Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni has been confirmed attending so far.

The other 28 leaders who have confirmed attendance include presidents of Russia and the Philippines. -with a report from Reuters