Bilateral economic and trade cooperation between China and the Philippines has yielded fruitful results with ministers of trade and commerce from both countries hoping to take economic and trade relations to a new level. China is the largest trading partner of the Philippines and bilateral investment cooperation is booming with major projects being implemented smoothly.
China has accused the Philippines of breaching its territory, saying two supply ships were blocked by Beijing’s coast guard as they approached a disputed shoal. Manila protested over the run-in, citing its own claim to the area.
Chinese investors are being urged to explore business opportunities in the Philippines, during the Philippines-China (Fujian) Economic and Trade Promotion Conference held last November 7. They are urging Chinese companies to invest in nickel and cobalt processing facilities and even to move forward to invest in energy storage production including EV (electric vehicle) batteries and renewable energy battery banks. Philippines is the second largest in terms of deposits of nickel and sixth for deposits for cobalt, and the two minerals are key ingredients in lithium ion batteries.
China’s main actions and Decisions related to geopolitics and geo economy
Week of October 16-22, 2021
On foreign policy, China returned this week to claim its rights in the South China Sea, amid a new claim by the Philippines against China for its activities in a Philippine exclusive economic zone rich in strategic resources, according to ABS-CBN, a private broadcasting company operating in the Philippines.
Also related to Asia Pacific, China urged Pacific island countries to join forces to stop the attempts of the AUKUS military alliance, made up of Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States, to counter China’s intentions in the South Pacific, Telesur said, a. Latin American multistate news channel, headquartered in Venezuela.
China condemned, on the other hand, the European Union for voting in its Parliament in favor of increasing ties with Taiwan and beginning to work on an investment agreement with the island, according to RT, the Moscow-based international news network. The EU had reached an investment agreement with China, but it was put on stand-by.
In terms of Connectivity, the two outstanding actions of China this week were related to the strategic project of the Belt and Road, promoted by China, to achieve its geopolitical and geoeconomic objectives at the regional and global levels.
First, China signed BRI-related cooperation documents with 10 Pacific island countries, elevating the comprehensive strategic partnership they carry to a new level, according to RNZ, New Zealand’s public service radio.
Second, China announced that it will work with Saudi Arabia “to further synergize the Initiative” and “actively participate” in the country’s major development projects, reports Anadolu Agency, the Turkish government’s press agency.
In the Energy sector, this week one of the main oil companies in the People’s Republic of China, Sinopec, signed, amid the energy crisis affecting China, an agreement with a US developer of liquefied natural gas, which will double the Chinese imports of LNG from the United States, indicates the British publication specialized in Energy, Energy Voice. In the last three years, the new LNG agreements between the two great powers had been frozen, due to the growing political tensions between the two countries that occurred during the Trump administration.
Also this week, China signed an agreement with Russia that will boost bilateral trade in energy products, including liquefied petroleum gas and natural gas, according to the Global Times, a Chinese daily owned by the Chinese Communist Party.
In Domestic Policy, the highlight was China’s attempt to tighten its grip on Macau, as part of a plan to regain its influence over society and businesses across the country, reports the New Lens daily, owned by Key Commentary Media Group, a media based in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao. Macao, like Hong Kong, is a “special administrative region” of China, assuming a high degree of autonomy within the framework of “one country, two systems”.
This follows the Philippines’ filing of a fresh protest against China over activities in its exclusive economic zone within the resource-rich South China Sea. This is not the first time Beijing maintained its position in the disputed South China Sea, even if the international Permanent Court of Arbitration invalidated their sweeping claims over almost the entire waters in a July 2016 ruling. Beijing continues to disregard the ruling as it continues to build islands in the waters and has allegedly blocked access of fishermen from the Philippines and other coastal states.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has restored a key defense pact with the United States that governs the presence of US soldiers in the Southeast Asian nation, reversing a decision that had caused concern in Washington and Manila. The pact has gained additional importance in recent years for the US and its allies, with China trying to assert itself in the region.
Philippine President expressed concern about Chinese vessels massing in the South China Sea. International concern has grown in recent days over what the Philippines has described as a “swarming and threatening presence” of more than 200 Chinese vessels that it believes were manned by maritime militia.
The United States will defend the Philippines against attacks in the South China Sea, according to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who stressed the importance of the U.S.-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty.
SOUTH CHINA SEA: Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has lifted the moratorium on petroleum exploration in the South China Sea, paving the way for three projects to resume energy-related activity in the area (which had been suspended from 2014 due to territorial disputes). The Philippines said the decision to lift the moratorium was arrived at “with full regard of the ongoing negotiations between the Philippines and China.
PHILIPPINES: Continued skirmishes between the Philippines government and Islamic State-affiliated terrorist groups in the months since the COVID-19 pandemic suggest that the terror threat in the country has not receded. The latest twin bombing in Jolo city on August 24 is yet more proof. There are ongoing terror attacks and extremist ideological activities in South Mindanao.