Chinese, Philippine leaders to sign loan deals on infrastructure projects

20, Nov. 2018

MANILA, NNA - Chinese leader Xi Jinping and his counterpart Rodrigo Duterte are expected to sign loan agreements on Tuesday, helping the Philippines develop its infrastructure with Chinese money under Beijing’s ambitious plan to link Asia with Europe and Africa.

Xi’s two-day visit to Manila comes amid improving bilateral ties after years of conflict over the disputed territories in the West Philippine Sea, and the recent warning from the U.S. about having loan agreements with China.

Local media reported the two leaders are expected to sign at least 10 deals but Presidential Palace and the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs have yet to release the official list of agreements.

Government officials have said the leaders will sign loan agreements under the Belt and Road Initiative, Beijing’s massive infrastructure projects.

Joint statements are expected to be released at 6 pm local time (1000 GMT) on Tuesday.

Concerns have surfaced after U.S. Vice President Mike Pence warned against what he described as China’s “debt diplomacy,” with some Filipino lawmakers seeking a congressional inquiry into the loan.

But Duterte’s economic managers assured the Philippines would not fall into a “debt trap” and that they would carefully review the agreements, local media reported.

Beijing vowed in 2016 to provide the Philippines with 24 billion dollars in loans and investment, but it has delivered only a fraction of the said amount, according to local media.