MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Three out of 40 infrastructure projects that the Philippines has proposed for Chinese financing are expected to break ground this year, and there will be more investments following a recent improvement in the two countries' ties, China's ambassador said Friday.
Ambassador Zhao Jianhua also expressed hope President Rodrigo Duterte would receive emergency powers from Congress soon because without them, urgent projects may not be finished within his single six-year term.
A Philippine Senate committee has recommended such powers for the Duterte administration to address the country's worsening traffic problem. A House of Representatives committee has already approved them but the measures haven't yet been formally passed.
Duterte took office last June and has moved to rebuild once-frosty relations with China over South China Sea disputes.
Zhao told a business conference in southern Davao city that projects likely to break ground this year include a $3 billion train line from Manila to southeastern Legazpi city. He said more infrastructure investments are expected above the $6 billion in soft loans and $3-billion credit line Beijing earlier committed.
China will try to make sure the projects are corruption-free, he said. Corruption allegations have led to the scrapping of previous deals with China, including a $500-million railroad connecting the capital to northern provinces and a $329-million national broadband network.
Zhao also noted a marked increase in Chinese tourists after Duterte's state visit to Beijing last year, and said the numbers may increase to 1 million this year from 675,000.