Philippines seen to benefit from China’s New Silk Road


Shanghai — The Philippines is expected to benefit from China’s proposed New Silk Road, an economic corridor that will be a modern version of the historic network of ancient trade routes between Europe and Asia.

The New Silk Road, dubbed as “One Belt One Road” is seen pushing through despite the ongoing territorial dispute between China and its neighbors and may even help pacify the tensions, an expert said in a briefing here over the weekend.

Zhao Gancheng, director of the government-run think-tank Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, said the establishment of the new economic corridor is a reflection of China’s new and more friendly foreign policy program.

“A new picture of Chinese diplomacy is taking shape,” Gancheng said.

He said the geopolitical situation has changed and that Chinese leaders are coming up with a new program of foreign policy to expand cooperation with China’s neighbors.

Thus, the New Silk Road is meant to expand economic cooperation among neighbors in the region including those it is in dispute with such as the Philippines.

Essentially, the New Silk Road aims to create a massive trade loop linking Asia, Europe and Africa through the construction of massive infrastructure such as railways and ports.

Through it, China envisions a region of “more capital convergence and currency integration” which means currency exchanges will become fluid and easy.

“This kind of Silk Road initiatives would bring about new investments and these would be huge. These investments would lead to a new wave of construction of facilities not only railways but power generators and would build up manufacturing factories which in turn would create more employment,” Gancheng said.

Asked how exactly the Philippines could benefit from the New Silk Road considering that it does not share a land border with China, he said there are many ways Manila could take advantage of the opportunity being a maritime neighbor.

He noted for instance that in Sri Lanka, China initiated a deep-water project, which would benefit the Sri Lankans as it would create more jobs.

“This is an example of how the Philippines can benefit. It could be applied to the Philippines,” he noted China can initiate infrastructure projects in the Philippines that could boost its capacity for economic cooperation.

He said the same goes for other maritime neighbors such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.

Gancheng said there’s no reason the Philippines would be excluded from the proposed new trade region just because of the ongoing territorial dispute over the West Philippine Sea.

Instead, he said economic cooperation should not be linked to the ongoing geopolitical tensions.

“There’s no reason the Philippines would be excluded in the New Silk Road. Let’s see this year and next year, maybe the relations (between China and the Philippines) can go back to normal track….exports of China (to the Philippines can be reinvigorated) and infrastructure capital from China can benefit the Philippines,” Gancheng said.


By Iris C. Gonzales 

(The Philippine Star) | Updated January 11, 2016 – 12:00am