Beijing, People’s Republic of China
April 23, 2019

Philippine Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China Jose Santiago Sta. Romana believes that the Philippines can once again maximize opportunities in terms of economic development and cooperation, as well as create a more dynamic platform to introduce the country’s potentials in infrastructure development, financial integration, and people-to-people exchanges through global connectivity.

With the much anticipated participation of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to the 2nd Belt and Road Forum (BRF) for International Cooperation in Beijing, Ambassador Sta. Romana said in an interview that the Philippines’ main agenda in the forum is to maintain its strong connection not just with China, but with other countries.

Through the Belt and Road Initiative or BRI, the Ambassador said the country is in for a broader global affair since around 40 world leaders and heads of international organizations are participating.

“That is our real interest here: It’s how we can maximize iyong economic opportunities and economic benefits for the Philippines. Aside from infrastructure trade, we hope to expand markets for Philippine products, not only to China, ASEAN countries, but also to the Eurasia, Central Asia, to Europe. And that, as well as opportunities for more investment, more tourism,” Ambassador Sta. Romana said.

Since President Duterte shall serve as one of the lead speakers during the Leaders’ Roundtable, Ambassador Sta. Romana said that he sees this as an avenue for the Chief Executive to reintroduce concrete economic plans and efforts, particularly the administration’s flagship project, the ‘Build, Build, Build’ program.

“When the President first came here, it was an opportunity to learn more about the Belt and Road Forum and Initiative. And at that point, we basically proceeded from the perspective of convergence and synergy because the President had the ‘Build Build Build’ program and then the Belt and Road — the key idea was connectivity, infrastructure was a key item. So we saw that there was a convergence and the key was how to find where there are areas for cooperation, where we can find synergy,” the Ambassador said.

Moreover, he mentioned that the forum is also an opportunity for President Duterte and President Xi Jinping of China to renew the two nation’s ties amidst the ongoing disputes and differences of views.

Ambassador Sta. Romana shared that he always believed differences are solved based on how you approach, saying that the best approaches will always be through diplomatic talks, negotiations, and through bilateral consultative mechanism.

“Disputes should not define the totality of relations. It’s only a part of it. There is another, a bigger part where there you can have cooperation and trade, investment, tourism. So that is the method we found,” he said.

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