MANILA - China will deepen its interaction with the southern region of Mindanao, with its top diplomat promising infrastructure projects and reconstruction of war-torn Marawi City.
Wang Yi, who led the inauguration of the consulate in Davao City, said an office in President Rodrigo Duterte's hometown will "provide new impetus to the interactions between the southern Philippines and China."
"We look forward to further increasing interactions between Mindanao and China so that the development potential of this region will be further unleashed and add new momentum to the friendship between China and the Philippines," he said in Chinese during a press conference in Davao on Monday.
Mindanao is "restoring peace and tranquility and heading to a promising future" under the leadership of Duterte, said Wang.
"China is ready to support Mindanao region in further development...We will support Mindanao in pursuing lasting peace," he said.
Wang said China provided weaponry and equipment aid to the Philippines when war broke out in Marawi last year. It also offered a grant for post-conflict reconstruction, he said.
"China is ready to deepen counter-terrorism cooperation with the Philippines, take an active part in post-conflict reconstruction in Marawi so that the local communities will enjoy a peaceful and tranquil life," he said.
China said it will help Davao City formulate infrastructure development plans and assist in the construction of the Davao River Bridge and the Mindanao railway and other railways and expressways in the city.
Wang said the country would also enhance cooperation related to the Brunei Darussalam Indonesia Malaysia and Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA), which "will be helpful for better development of the Mindanao region."
"As the local security gets better, China will encourage the opening of more direct flights to the southern Philippines so that more Chinese will come as visitors or for business," he said.
"As time goes by, I believe Mindanao region will become an important link in China-Philippines cooperation on the Belt and Road," he added.
China is also looking to provide assistance for new livelihood projects and poverty reduction programs in Davao, including the building of 14 schools and 4 wells, which will soon be completed.
Apart from building a local hospital, China will also consider importing more fruits from Mindanao and providing more scholarships to students from the region, said Wang.