The Chinese Embassy in Manila on Friday bewailed a statement made by the United States questioning the benefits arising from the Philippines’s bilateral relationship with China.
This was even as China described the US claim that the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) would provide the Philippines with economic opportunities as “tantamount to quenching thirst with poison.”
Meanwhile, US Ambassador to the Philippines MaryKay Carlson said a $24-million (P1.32 billion) airstrip extension and rehabilitation project will break ground at the Basa Air Base in Pampanga—one of the existing EDCA sites in the country—on March 20.
In a GMA News interview with anchor Vicky Morales, Carlson said the airstrip extension is one of the biggest among the projects worth over $80 million (P4.4 billion) at the Philippine military facilities that US forces may access under the defense agreement.
“I can announce today that we are going to do a groundbreaking this month. On March 20th, we’re going to invite our US Secretary of the Air Force to do a groundbreaking on a $24-million project that will extend the Basa airstrip and rehabilitate that,” Carlson said last night.
The envoy said the project was to make sure that the airstrip would be “useful so that when planes land they’re not negatively affected.”
“Right now, a part of that airstrip is not usable because of the state of disrepair,” Carlson said.
The Chinese Embassy made its statement after US Department of State Undersecretary Victoria Nuland claimed that the four additionalmilitary sites in the Philippines, to which American forces would have access under the EDCA, would not only help address security concerns in the region but also bring economic opportunities and jobs to their host communities.
Nuland also allegedly questioned how many of China’s promises had been converted to jobs and climate investments that benefited the Philippine people.
“Economy and trade cannot flourish without a peaceful and stable regional environment,” the Chinese Embassy in Manila said in its statement.
It said some Americans claim that the four additional EDCA militarysites would bring economic opportunities and jobs to their host communities yet discredit China-Philippines economic cooperation at the same time.
“Such remarks are in total ignorance of the Philippine people’s pursuit of peace, cooperation, and development as well as China-Philippines helping each other in developing the economy, improving people’s livelihood, and increasing employment,” the embassy lamented.
“Creating economic opportunities and jobs through military cooperation is tantamount to quenching thirst with poison and gouging flesh toheal wounds. Such cooperation will seriously endanger regional peace and stability and drag the Philippines into the abyss of geopolitical strife and damage its economic development at the end of the day,” it said. (See full story online at manilastandard.net)
Beijing also said that China and the Philippines were natural partners due to geographical proximity, close kinship, and complementary advantages.
Besides, China and the Philippines have deepened the synergy between the Belt and Road Initiative and the “Build, Build, Build” and “Build Better More” Programs of the Philippines.
The Chinese embassy also said that around 40 government-to-government cooperation projects had been completed or were in progress, including the Binondo-Intramuros Bridge, Davao-Samal Bridge, and the Chico River Pump Irrigation Project.
It also pointed to Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s state visit to China this year which yielded 14 intergovernmental cooperation agreements in the fields of the Belt and Road Initiative, agriculture and fisheries, finance, customs, e-commerce, tourism, among others.
“The export of fresh Philippine durians to China alone is expected to generate up to 10,000 direct and indirect job opportunities in farming, packing, and logistics chain in the Philippines,” the Chinese Embassy said.
“Since the state visit many Chinese business delegations are coming to the Philippines, reaching extensive agreements on expanding trade and investment cooperation between the two countries, demonstrating the huge potential and broad prospects of China-Philippines practical cooperation,” it added.
“We hope that the Philippine people can tell the selfish interests and zero-sum mentality of the United States to provoke a new cold war in this region. History will judge who is the reliable partner of the Philippines for mutual assistance and common development, and who is a passer-by that instigates and fans discordance in this region,” it said.