Philippines-China ties better than ever –– Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo

April 23, 2019
Gloria Macapagal Arroyo

FORMER President and now Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said that bilateral ties between the Philippines and China have reached new heights in recent years, and this is evident in the jump in China’s investment in the Philippines and in China’s becoming the Philippines’ number one partner in trade and industry.

Speaker Arroyo made her keynote speech on the second day of the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) Manila Conference at the Shangri-La at the Fort, Manila hotel in Taguig City.

“Clearly, the economic and trade cooperation between our two countries is as good as it has ever been, better than it has ever been in fact. The main thing to focus on now, is the implementation side,” said Speaker Arroyo.    

Under the initiative of Speaker Arroyo, who is a member of the BFA Board, the Philippines hosted the 2019 Boao Forum for Asia Manila Conference, with the Federation of Filipino Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (FFCCCII) as its BFA’s main partner, and the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) as supporting partner.   

Boao theme for this conference is “Concerted Action for Common Development in the New Era.”

The former Chief Executive said that during the state visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping last November, he and President Rodrigo Duterte decided to establish the relationship of “Comprehensive Strategic Cooperation”, sent a strong message that the two countries are partners in seeking common development.

She said the Philippines has to exert maximum effort to remove on-the-ground bottlenecks that impede implementation of projects that involve trade and investment groups from China.

“We hope that is the way your business plans will also end up. Welcome without restriction. We in the Philippines want to match your enthusiasm and this is what this Forum is all about. We want you to know the Philippine business climate and as that lunch meeting clearly demonstrated, our business climate is very very welcoming for your business plans and I hope that will be the conclusion in this Boao Forum in Manila,” said Speaker Arroyo, member of the Board of Directors of the Boao Forum for Asia.

Speaker Arroyo recalled that when she first entered government at the Department of Trade and Industry in the 1980s, she already wondered if China would become “Southeast Asia’s chief competitor in the world market.”

“Little did we realize then that China is in a class of its own. Now today, we see it. That rather than a competitor, China has proven to be a partner in development. It is a market for Southeast Asia and its developing countries. It is a donor, it is a provider of capital and technology,” said Speaker Arroyo.

At the opening of the Boao Forum in Hainan last month, Speaker Arroyo said Premiere Li Keqiang spoke of “Jointly Tackling Challenges for Common Development.”

“Premier Li said that common development should be inclusive and deliver benefits to all.  As I understood him, he spoke of “inclusiveness” in the sense of the antithesis to “unequal income distribution,” said Speaker Arroyo.

Speaker Arroyo said Premiere Li’s call for common development was a call for concerted action.  She said Li elaborated on the elements of joint development and he declared that multilateralism is the right way to ensure lasting prosperity and development.  All parties need to jointly uphold the United Nations-centered international system, and the rules-based multilateral trading system.

“Premier Li said that China advocates free trade and fair trade and has taken concrete actions to uphold fairness and equity.  He said that fair trade must reflect multilateral, inclusive, and non-discriminatory principles.  As for the specific issues, they should be addressed through equal consultation in the larger framework of free trade in order to reach a win-win solution,” said Speaker Arroyo.

Speaker Arroyo believes in globalization and free trade, tempered by each country’s unique history and situation.  “Thus, I am pleased that China has developed into a powerful advocate for globalization and free trade,” she added.