RP’s growing economic ties with China overcoming ZTE, hostage crisis fallout

Published by rudy Date posted on April 15, 2011

China has expressed “strong interest” in reinforcing its investments in the Philippines through the Aquino adminis-tration’s public-private partnership (PPP) initiative, signaling the improving economic ties between the two countries after a bungled telecommunications project and mishandling of a hostage-taking incident that killed eight Hong Kong tourists.

Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan said at a meeting last Tuesday with Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima that “China is open” to the PPP concept while Filipino business leaders expressed confidence in Chinese firms’ capabilities to participate successfully in the projects.

Purisima led a Philippine delegation to China this week as part of its PPP roadshow in several countries.

But before China formally invests in the PPP, Wang said business contracts to be signed with relevant Chinese government agencies and the private sector with Philippine partners in the future must be conducive to the development of bilateral relations between the two countries.

According to Purisima, he received a “positive response” and “strong interest” from the Chinese government and its business leaders.

The PPP team also met with Chinese Finance Minister Xie Xuren, Transport Minister Li Shenglin, Commerce Minister Chen Deming and People’s Bank of China Governor Zhou Xiaochuan in Beijing before going to Shanghai

last April 13.

Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson disclosed at a press conference that among the PPP projects to be rolled out are 25 public works projects, including roads, urban rail, sea ports and airports, worth at least $12 billion.

Purisima told Wang that the Philippines attaches importance to its economic relations with China as indicated by the fact that it is the first stop of the economic managers’ program to invite international participants to the competitive public bidding for PPP projects to boost the state of infrastructure across the country.

“A key agenda of the adminis-tration of President Aquino is to increase economic growth and reduce poverty,” Purisima said.

To achieve this goal, he said it is very important to develop the overall infrastructure in the Philippines.

“We invite state-owned enterprises and the private sector and seek the support of the Chinese government in this program to improve the overall infrastructure in the Philippines,” he said.

The Chinese government earlier admitted that the shelved $329-million telecommunications project it signed with the Philippine government under the then Arroyo administration has adversely affected the economic cooperation between the two countries.

Beijing said several cooperation projects with the Philippines have been stalled because of the scandal, adding Chinese investors were “upset” by allegations of bribery and corruption in the botched national broadband network deal.

The scuttled deal between Chinese firm Zhong Xing Telecommunication Equipment Co. Ltd., or ZTE, and the Arroyo administration, is an allegedly overpriced deal that was supposed to establish a nationwide telecom-munications network such as broadband Internet services, video conferencing, landline, mobile phone calls and e-mail requirements for all government agencies from the national to the local level.

Former President Gloria Arroyo, her husband Jose Miguel Arroyo and close political allies reportedly received millions of dollars worth of bribes from the Chinese firm, according to witnesses who testified before Senate hearings.

Mrs. Arroyo and her husband have steadfastly denied any wrongdoing in connection with the ZTE deal. ZTE also denied bribing anybody involved in the deal.

In another setback to its diplomatic relations, a dismissed police officer, in an attempt to get his job back, hijacked a tour bus carrying 25 persons, including 20 tourists from Hong Kong on Aug. 23, 2010.

The 11-hour hostage drama ended in a bloody carnage, killing eight Hong Kong citizens and the lone hostage taker in a bungled police rescue.

The police and the Aquino administration’s handling of the incident has drawn flak from the international community particularly from Hong Kong, China’s special administrative region and the Chinese government.

The media’s live coverage of the incident was also heavily criticized. –Michaela P. del Callar, Daily Tribune

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