Interview: China's Hong Kong can help Philippines realize infrastructure ambition

Source: Xinhua| 2017-06-23 22:00:21|Editor: Mengjie
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MANILA, June 23 (Xinhua) -- Hong Kong can be of great help to the Philippine government's ambitious plan to build more roads, railways, bridges and the like infrastructure projects, especially under the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative aimed at improving connectivity and cooperation, a Hong Kong business executive told Xinhua in an exclusive interview recently.

Chen Zhangcheng, chair of Hong Kong Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, said Hong Kong-based businessmen can sink in their capital in Southeast Asian countries like the Philippines. By investing in ASEAN countries, he said, more jobs will be created in the region.

"The Philippines is particularly eager to attract investment from Hong Kong, as it enjoys geographical advantages. You can see their officials trying hard to introduce projects and business prospects in the Philippines in every expo and forum held in Hong Kong," Chen said.

Hong Kong, as a global financial center, can offer financial and management expertise to the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte to realize "the golden age of infrastructure" in the Philippines during his term, he noted.

Moreover, he said that the Philippines is a potential haven for Hong Kong-based investors because Filipinos speak good English and the Philippines has low-wage policy.

"Seizing the Belt and Road Initiative, Hong Kong and the Philippines can benefit each other and achieve win-win outcomes if they take full advantage of each other' strengths."

Proposed by China in 2013, the Belt and Road Initiative refers to Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, aiming at building a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient trade routes of the Silk Road.

Chen elaborated on the close economic and trade relationship between Hong Kong and the Philippines in a long time as they are close to each other geographically and believed there is great scope and enormous potential for them to cooperate.

For instance, he said, almost half of overseas workers in Hong Kong are Filipinos. Hong Kong holds hundreds of varied exhibitions every year, attracting many Philippine businessmen to participate.

Dubbed as shopping heaven, Hong Kong is one of the best choices for Philippine consumers to visit. Their close relationship is manifested by frequent flights between Hong Kong, Manila and other Philippine cities, Chen added.

Hong Kong has become the eighth biggest trading partner of the Philippines in the first four months of this year, with their bilateral trading volume rising 33.1 percent over levels of a year ago, according to Philippine Statistics Authority.

About 210,000 Filipinos are reportedly working in Hong Kong. Hong Kong Tourism Board revealed over 790,000 Filipinos traveled to Hong Kong in 2016, a surge of 12.4 percent year on year.

Chen said Hong Kong and the Philippines have experienced Manila hostage crisis which happened on August 23, 2010. A disgruntled former Philippine National Police officer hijacked a tourist bus in Rizal Park of Manila, leaving eight Hong Kong travelers dead and seven injured due to local police's clumsy handling.

The Hong Kong government issued sanctions on the Philippines when the then President Benigno Aquino III refused to apologize to the families of the victims.

"Fortunately, after President Duterte took office, the China-Philippine relations enjoy a dramatic change to the positive, which has also given a green light to the full recovery of Hong Kong-Philippine relations."

His idea echoes with Philippine government officials' statement.

Carlos Dominguez, finance secretary of the Philippines, has recently said in Hong Kong that the Philippines stands to benefit from the Belt and Road Initiative, particularly in the revival of the maritime silk route.

"The Philippines is building a lot of infrastructure, of course with the help of China, and among the infrastructure that we are building are ports and airports. That will help lower the cost of shipping our goods to Hong Kong or to Shanghai and that will open markets to us along the corridor between China and the Middle East and Europe," Dominguez said.