Diplomatic relations between China and the Philippines have been developing steadily since about 1975. Over the years, several bilateral agreements were signed with the aim to strengthen cooperation and increase the level of mutual trust and confidence. In 2018, bilateral trade between the two nations amounted to US$55 billion.
On October 24, 2019, Finance Secretary of the Philippines Carlos Dominguez III and China’s Vice Premier Hu Chunhua signed several agreements during a meeting held in Manila.
Two of the agreements are part of President Duterte’s flagship infrastructure program called “Build, Build, Build” while the other four cover trade, customs, and communications. They also discussed the best ways to integrate the “Build, Build, Build” program with China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as well as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement.
The agreements signed were the following:
Davao City expressway project
This project involves the construction of a 24.4km (15.1 miles) expressway within Davao City connecting the Sta. Ana Port to the outer part of the city. This was proposed by the Duterte administration in order to relieve traffic congestion within the city as well as encourage economic activities from the improvement of accessibility. The project is estimated to cost around US$478.5 million and will be financed by the official development assistance (ODA) loan package from the Chinese Government. The 12-month feasibility study will be conducted by CCCC Highway Consultants Co. Ltd., a Chinese contractor.
Panay-Guimaras-Negros (PGN) island bridge project
The feasibility study for the construction of the 5.7km (3.5 miles) Panay-Guimaras bridge and the 12.3km (7.6 miles) Guimaras-Negros bridge is set to be completed before 2020. The study was conducted by Chinese firm CCCC Highways Consultations Co., Ltd, and the funding for the project (worth US$535 million) was provided through a grant from the Chinese government.
The Philippine radio equipment project
The Chinese government donated a variety of broadcasting equipment to the Presidential Communications Operations Office’s (PCOO) Philippine Broadcasting Service (PBS); a state-owned regional radio station. The donation includes live broadcast equipment, FM broadcast equipment, transmitters, and medium wave transmitter equipment.
The China-Aid Container Testing Equipment
China will donate four sets of Mobile Container/Vehicle Inspection Systems and two sets of CT Scan Inspection Systems to the country’s Bureau of Customs.
These two bilateral documents were also signed:
Implementation of the Marawi Sports Complex and Central Market Projects
Projects as part of the reconstruction program for the ruined city of Marawi.
Protocol on Phytosanitary Requirements for the Export of Avocado from the Philippines to China
This agreement will see the Philippines and China develop a protocol on the phytosanitary requirements needed for the export of Hass avocados to China. In 2017, the demand for avocados in China increased more than 1000 times compared to 2011.