The Manila Times : Enhanced PH-China ties seen under BBM

By Bernadette E. Tamayo | The Manila Times

PRESIDENT-ELECT Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. is expected to continue the Duterte administration's enhanced ties with the Chinese government, but with a twist.

Prof. Rene de Castro, a political analyst and a Stratbase ADR Fellow, gave this observation when asked how he would foresee Philippine-China relations under the incoming Marcos government.

He said Marcos will continue what his predecessor, President Rodrigo Duterte, has started in ramping up the Philippines' ties with China.

De Castro, however, told The Manila Times that Marcos might pursue his foreign policy with China "using a different approach" that would not antagonize both Beijing and Washington.

He believes that Marcos Jr. will not rely heavily on China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to jump-start infrastructure projects nationwide.

Marcos Jr. earlier mentioned that he will bring back the PPP (Public-Private Partnership) with incoming Public Works secretary Manuel Bonoan at the helm, to boost his government's infrastructure program.

"So, he'll rely on private companies and less on BRI because money would not come from the BRI. He'd learned the lessons of this administration," de Castro added.

He noted that Duterte tried to link BRI with his Build, Build, Build infrastructure flagship program.

"But he (Duterte) was very much disappointed [with the results]," de Castro said.

He noted that in 2016, Chinese President Xi Jinpin had promised Duterte about $24 billion worth of BRI projects. However, it did not materialize as Beijing only funded two projects — the construction of dams in Kaliwa in Quezon province and Chico in Kalinga province.

"These projects have nothing to do with connectivity like roads, ports and railroad systems," de Castro pointed out.

Chinese-funded projects have also stipulated that China will bring everything, from construction materials to Chinese workers. The analyst said these conditions seemed to be disadvantageous for the Philippines in terms of job creation.