China denies excluding PH from maritime silk road
The online news portal of TV5
MANILA - Definitely not true. That was the reaction of Chinese officials in the country on Thursday to news reports that the Asian giant is bypassing the Philippines - the only one among South China Sea claimants to take it to a UN court - in its proposed 21st century Maritime Silk Road.
In a statement, the Chinese Embassy in Manila said the media report of "China bypassing Philippines in its 21st century maritime silk road" is erroneous.
The statement added: "The Philippines is definitely part of the 21st century maritime silk road, as well as a member of the China-Asean maritime cooperation."
Reacting to a report by the Wall Street Journal three days ago, the embassy added, "China has never published any official map of the 21st century maritime silk road, nor has China excluded the Philippines from the blueprint of the 21st century maritime silk road."
The embassy stressed that despite their differences, Beijing considered Manila a "proactive and constructive partner of the 21st century maritime silk road, which serves the national interests of the Philippines and will contribute to the social and economic development of the Philippines."
The embassy in Manila explained that "based on historic traditions, this strategic concept is aimed at deepening China's friendly cooperation with the world by promoting policy communication, road connectivity, trade facilitation, monetary circulation, and people-to-people exchanges along the route, thus leading to a more closed community of shared destinies."
The WSJ report said Manila's filing of an arbitration case over China's "excessive claims" in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) had so upset Beijing that it excluded the Philippines from the maritime silk road, a trade route snaking its way from China to South Asia to Middle East and Africa to the Venetian canals.
According to the WSJ report, "official Chinese maps . . . show the route conspicuously bypassing the Philippines."
The envisioned maritime silk road is designed to intersect the ancient land-based silk road running from the north of China to Venice.
Chinese President Xi Jinping had first broached the idea of the maritime silk road in October 2013 during a trip to Indonesia.
On November 8, 2014, Xi announced that China will contribute $40 billion to set up a Silk Road infrastructure fund to bring new opportunities for infrastructure, resources and industrial development along the maritime silk road.
The embassy of China in Manila said excluding the Philippines from the maritime silk road is simply unimagineable, as the trade, cultural and personnel exchanges on the sea between both countries has run on for more than a millennium.
After Manila submitted its Memorial to the UN arbitral tribunal on the law of the sea, some analysts had opined that the Philippines' participation in the billion-dollar maritime silk road, seen to boost trade and create jobs in the region, would be affected adversely.