Budget Secretary Ben Diokno welcomed the historic November 20 to 21 State Visit by China President Xi Jinping—the first by a Chinese head of state to the Philippines in 13 years—as a great opportunity “to strengthen bilateral relations and economic partnership between two peoples”. He said
this at Kamuning Bakery Café’s non-partisan “Pandesal Forum”, where he had a wide-ranging and frank dialogue with Philippine and international media in Quezon City.
Sec. Diokno said that as a result of the Philippines’ independent foreign policy, the country is now friend of all the world’s big powers and enemy to none, thus gaining economic support from China, Japan, South Korea, USA and even Russia. He said: “President Xi Jinping’s State Visit shall boost the Philippine economy as one of the fastest-growing in the dynamic Asean region”.
Sec. Diokno said that among the many good news expected from President Xi Jinping’s State Visit include China’s help to finance the country’s many big infrastructure projects like new trains and modern bridges, the influx of China tourists to the Philippines is expected to reach 1.5 million per year,
two-way bilateral trade is hitting record volumes, Philippine fruits and other agriculture exports to China are growing faster than the country could supply the huge demand, there is also possibility of high-paying overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) jobs to be allowed by the Chinese government for their major cities
like Shanghai and Beijing, there is also a huge demand for English teachers.
Secretary Diokno revealed that China Ambassador Zhao Jianhuaonce showed him a Chinese purchase order for US42 billion worth of Philippine fruits, so he urged Filipino farmers and entrepreneurs to produce more to sell to this huge and neighboring market of 1.4 billion people.
Diokno said that about 30% of the Philippines’ ambitious, new infrastructure projects under the Duterte administration’s “Build, Build, Build” program shall be funded by China, including new bridges, modern railways such as that connecting Metro Manila to the Bicol region all the way to Sorsogon province, modern railway for the southern island of Mindanao, and others. Diokno also thanked China for its multi-billion peso gifts of two new bridges in Metro Manila, one linking Binondo to Intramuros in Manila City and another in Makati City. He also cited China’s assistance of free weapons and economic
aid for war-ravaged Marawi City.
A former University of the Philippines (U.P.) economics professor, Secretary Diokno also debunked fake news being spread about a so-called “debt trap” or “debt diplomacy” by some local and foreign politicians, explaining in detail that all foreign loans from China, Japan or other countries pass
through rigorous evaluations by the Philippine government’s economic managers and the standard of having at least an internal rate of return of 10%.
Sec. Diokno also said: “The Philippines’ debt-to-gross domestic product (GDP) ratio is now only 40% and declining under the Duterte administration, while the usual rule of thumb is that 60% means an economy is in pretty good shape. In comparison, Japan’s current debt-to-GDP ratio is 250%, while that of
USA is over 100% and countries in Europe are over 100%.”
On USA Vice-President Pence recently criticizing China as a loan giver and as a partner in infrastructure development, Secretary Diokno said that the Philippines welcomes all allies to support the government’s socio-economic development projects and he added that some of China’s loans from its Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) are co-financed with Japan-governed Asian Development Bank (ADB) and USA-governed World Bank (WB). Diokno also commented that the United States’ also
needs to modernize its own infrastructures.