The Philippines on Monday lauded China for pushing forward the Belt and Road Initiative, saying the "bold and fresh" undertaking of Chinese President Xi Jinping will provide more opportunities to the Philippines and the region.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte arrived in Beijing on Saturday for the two-day Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation which was officially opened by President Xi on Sunday.
"We note that (Xi) desired the Belt and Road as a bridge for peace, a road to prosperity, a way to boost inclusive growth and balanced development, and to promote equality," the Philippine government said in a statement on Monday.
The Philippines shares the view that a peaceful environment is needed to achieve development goals, it said.
"We are looking forward to the One Belt, One Road Initiative in promoting a prosperous and peaceful community of nations," the statement read, referring to the initiative on the construction of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road brought up by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013. The initiative is aimed at building a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient Silk Road routes.
It added that the Philippines was pleased to hear that the Belt and Road Initiative is meant to help developing countries to create more opportunities for growth and uplift the lives of people, which are also the priorities of the Duterte administration.
Duterte's cabinet members said the China-proposed initiative would be beneficial to the Build-Build-Build infrastructure plan of the Philippine government.
The Philippines can make use of the initiative to attract more investment for Southeast Asia, especially the Philippines, said Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana shared the sentiment, saying that the insurgency and crimes in the country's South are driven by the lack of economic development opportunities.
"And if we can bring in the infrastructure development in the South, it will be included in this One Belt, One Road, the investment will come, then maybe we can address some of the problems, economic problems in the South, and improve the security situation in the country," Lorenzana said.
Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, who was recently appointed as the secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) by Duterte, said the Philippines will benefit more from the initiative which promotes inter-connectivity.
He noted that the Philippines, due to its archipelagic nature, should improve its infrastructure and inter-connectivity, and the Belt and Road Initiative provides international context for the infrastructure plan of the Duterte administration.
Philippine officials also believe that the Belt and Road Initiative is more than infrastructure inter-connectivity. It is believed to expand the market basis, diversify financing schemes and reinforce people-to-people connectivity, among others.
Duterte's spokesman Ernesto Abella said the Belt and Road Initiative "touched on peace and cooperation, inclusiveness, mutual learning and mutual benefit."