Former President Arroyo sees bright future seen in Philippines-China relations
MANILA – Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, one of the earliest officials of the Association for Philippines-China Understanding (APCU) said the existing relations with China will remain important even after the term of President Rodrigo Duterte.
In her keynote address Saturday afternoon, the former lawmaker and chief executive of the Philippines said both countries are in each other’s backyard and being neighbors, good relations has remained a priority. She said both countries are “increasingly involved” not only in bilateral dealings but also collectively through the ASEAN. The former Economics professor at the Ateneo de Manila University said China remains the most dynamic and fastest growing economy among major nations “and may soon become the world’s largest.”
She said with China’s GDP of around US$14+ trillion and growing at 6% annually, compounded compared with the United States’ GDP of US$21+ trillion growing at 3% per annum compounded.
“At these different growth rates, China overtakes the US in 15 years or by 2035,” she added.
Citing the World Economic Forum article which used a Statistical projection based on World Bank and IMF data that suggests China will catch up by 2024 former President Arroyo said she believes she will live to see this development.
She also explained the relationship with China will remain a priority because there is a very vibrant Filipino-Chinese community where increased business dealings with China has remained a natural experience.
With the Philippines in need of infrastructure, “there is no country in the world that matches China’s recent track record and capability in this area,” she further said.
She said her own reasons for following the lead of former Presidents Corazon C. Aquino and Fidel V. Ramos was founded on what Mrs. Aquino said prior to her trip to China in 1988, “Given its size and power, its destiny as the picot of the most important developments in Asia, its racial affinity with the Filipino nation and its territorial proximity to us, a visit to China indeed explains and justifies itself.”
She said under President Duterte, bilateral relations between the Philippines and China reached new heights “at a moment when socialism with Chinese characteristics has entered a new era.” She added President Xi Jinping has declared in this new era, China will open its door wider to the world.
Former President Arroyo said President Xi, in his remarks before the United Nations’ 75th General Assembly has underscored the sudden attack of COVID-19 “is a grave test for the entire world” where “mankind has entered a new era of interconnectedness” with countries sharing intertwined interests and their future linked together as global threats and global challenges require strong, global responses.
She credited China’s economic recovery during the second and third quarters following a setback during the first three months of the year,
“This is not surprising because after all, since China’s reform and opening up in 1978, it has proven that its approach of long-term planning and determined execution of such plans is effective,” she further said.
With China’s recovery, there may be some spill-over for its neighbors including the Philippines as Alibaba Cloud aims to train 50,000 local IT professionals and help 5,000 businesses in the Philippines by 2023.
The former president said the Philippines can learn lessons on the new normal from China where a V-shaped early post-COVID-19 economic recovery where the Chinese government is trying ways to create more job opportunities, encouraging internet sales and the night market economy with E-commerce picking up.
Mrs. Arroyo said a series of issues are unfortunately turning the opinion of some against China.
“Here in the Philippines, there is the South china Sea, there is POGO which ironically the Chinese government is against; and now there is corona virus which some blame on china, based more on emotion rather than reason,” she added.
She added there is much more that binds the Philippines to China as friends that what divides. (Melo M. Acuña)
Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo speaking before the Association for Philippines-China Understanding (APCU). (Screen grab from APCU Forum on Zoom).