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China’s top diplomat assures aid for Mindanao development

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Affairs Minister Wang Yi reiterated China’s support for Mindanao under the leadership of President Rodrigo Duterte, saying it will continue to get assistance for development initiatives.

Projects are already in the drawing board, such as the Mindanao Railway System and the rehabilitation of Marawi.

“China is ready to support further development of Mindanao,” Wang said in a press conference on Monday following the bilateral meetings and signing of three bilateral documents at the Marco Polo Hotel.

Wang also paid a courtesy call on President Duterte at the Presidential Guesthouse in Panacan.

Wang said China promptly responded to the call of the Philippine government after the war in Marawi broke out last year, providing weaponry and equipment aid worth RMB200 million (USD28.7 million).

“China is ready to cooperate for the reconstruction of Marawi so that local communities will again enjoy tranquil life,” he said, adding China fully supports connectivity projects Mindanao.

“We will take an active part in the construction of the Mindanao Railway and help improve internal connectivity,” he said.

The Mindanao Railway is one of the 12 flagship projects proposed for Chinese grant financing through the China International Development Cooperation Agency, which administers foreign aid and development assistance to other countries.

The first phase of the railway project covering Tagum-Davao-Digos is 102 kilometers long, with a design speed of 160 kilometers per hour. The segment is expected to be operational by 2021.

Wang said China will also help enhance cooperation with the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-the Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area aimed at pushing positive development in Mindanao.

In Davao City, Wang said the Chinese government is also providing assistance for livelihood projects aimed at poverty reduction.

China will likewise help Davao City in formulating infrastructure development plans, and assist in the construction of the Davao River Bridge in Bucana and expressways, he added.

Wang said his government is also considering assistance for the construction of a local hospital.

As peace and security improves, Wang said China will encourage the opening of more direct flights to different cities in the Philippines so that more Chinese will come as visitors or investors.

“As time goes by, Mindanao region will become important in Philippine-China relations,” Wang said.

On Sunday, Wang led Chinese officials in the opening of the Chinese Consulate General office here.

Wang said the opening of the Consulate office provided the impetus to more interactions between the southern Philippines and China.#