MANILA—The Philippines and China on Wednesday signed 14 agreements aimed at improving bilateral ties marred by a bitter South China Sea dispute.
Signed during Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s official visit to the country, the agreements involve the construction of two bridges over Pasig River, rehabilitation centers in Sarangani and Agusan del Sur, the Chico River Pump Irrigation Project, and the New Centennial Water Source-Kaliwa Dam Project.
Economic agreements were also struck. Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III told reporters that China has agreed to a renminbi bond issuance amounting to about $200 million. Dominguez, however, refused to say when the issuance will take place.
Another significant item on the list of agreements is the one on “Economic and Technical Cooperation” (grant agreement) between the Philippines and China, which Dominguez said will pave the way for the provision of 150 million renminbi (approximately P1.15 billion) for the rehabilitation of war-torn Marawi City.
In a statement, Dominguez also inked a memorandum of understanding with China Vice Commerce Minister and International Trade Representative Fu Ziying to “jointly identify and study” an indicative list consisting of the second basket of key infrastructure cooperation projects for possible Chinese financing.
Among the proposed projects under the second basket are the development of the Subic-Clark Railway, Davao City Expressway, and Panay-Guimaras-Negros Inter-Island Bridge.
The grants and agreements were signed as the Philippines and China seek to improve ties which had turned sour under former President Benigno Aquino III.
In a joint press conference with President Rodrigo Duterte, Li noted that the warm weather in Manila “somewhat reflects the temperature of China-Philippine relations, which is also going pretty high on the basis of the positive improvement of the relations between the two countries.”
Duterte also hailed the improved China-Philippines ties.
“Mutual trust and confidence-building have led to increased interaction on many levels of our two governments. Practical cooperation in many areas is bringing in an early harvest of tangible benefits,” Duterte said in his joint press conference with Li.
“Altogether, these concerted efforts of the Philippines and China have secured peace, stability, and development in the region.”
Below is the full list of the 14 agreements signed by the Philippines and China:
1. Agreement on Economic and Technical Cooperation between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the People’s Republic of China
2. Memorandum of Understanding on Jointly Promoting on Second Basket of Key Infrastructure Projects Cooperation between the Department of Finance of the Republic of the Philippines and the Ministry of Commerce of the Government of the People’s Republic of China
3. Exchange of Letters on Project of Dangerous Drugs Abuse Treatment and Rehabilitation Centers
4. Exchange of Letters on Project of Two Bridges Across Pasig River
5. Memorandum of Understanding for Cooperation on Industrial Parks Development between the Department of Trade and Industry of the Republic of the Philippines and the Ministry of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China
6. Memorandum of Understanding on Jointly Promoting the Philippine National Railways South Long Hall Project Cooperation between the Department of Transportation of the Republic of the Philippines and the Ministry of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China
7. Implementation Framework for the Memorandum of Understanding and Development of Project List for Cooperation in Production Capacity and Investment between the National Economic and Development Authority of the Republic of the Philippines and the National Development and Reform Commission of the People’s Republic of China
8. Memorandum of Understanding between the Department of Environment and Natural Resources of the Republic of the Philippines and the National Development and Reform Commission of the People’s Republic of China Concerning the Provision of Goods for Addressing Climate Change
9. Memorandum of Understanding on Defense Industry Cooperation between the Department of National Defense of the Republic of the Philippines and the State Administration of Science Technology Industry of the National Defense of the People’s Republic of China
10. Memorandum of Understanding between the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines and the State Intellectual Property of the People’s Republic of China on Cooperation in the Field of Intellectual Property
11. Memorandum of Understanding between the National Youth Commission and the All-China Youth Federation on Strengthening Youth Cooperation
12. The Financing Cooperation Agreement on Chico River Pump Irrigation Project and New Centennial Water Source-Kaliwa Dam Project between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines represented by the Department of Finance and the Export-Import Bank of China
13. The Republic of the Philippines 2017 Renminbi Bond Issuance Underwriting Agreement
14. Memorandum of Understanding between the Bases Conversion and Development Authority and China Development Bank