FUZHOU, China”•Chinese investors from the capital city of Fujian in this province are bullish on the Philippines as a potential growth area for their investments.
The province’s officials told Filipino journalists who visited the province through the Chinese Embassy in Manila and Communication University of China in Beijing that, after Singapore, the Philippines comes in as the No. 2 market for Fujian’s foreign direct investments in Southeast Asia.
They also said Fujian, one of the more prosperous and outward-looking provinces of China with a population of 1.68 million, is also the second largest export market in the region.
Meanwhile, “News of combat drills in the disputed territories in the South China Sea defies the Asean’s efforts to reduce the escalating tensions with a binding Code of Conduct that promotes peace in the region,” Dindo Manhit, president of the international think tank Stratbase ADR Institute, said in a statement on July 17
China’s Air Force said its fighters and bombers conducted “multiple” long-range drills near Japan, Taiwan and the Philippines.
In an online statement published by Reuters on July 17, the Chinese Air Force said its aircraft flew through both the Miyako Strait, which lies between two southern Japanese islands, and the Bashi Channel that separates Taiwan and the Philippines.
Last year, trade between the Philippines and Fujian alone reached $6.9 billion.
Li Lin, deputy director general of Fujian’s Foreign Affairs office, said the Philippines’ proximity and ties with China makes it an attractive investment market for Chinese industries like agriculture, mining and electronics. He said Fujian and the Philippines were very close.
“We would like to cooperate with the Philippines in the areas that we are strong,” Li said.
He said the entrepreneurs in the province were also looking into possible investments and joint ventures in the manufacturing sector, electronics, machinery and equipment and chemical industries in the Philippines.
Li said they had those investments in Vietnam, Cambodia and in Bangladesh.
“But the Philippines is much closer to us and we have a traditional relationship between us. I think the Philippines does not only have the labor force but a big market for our products,” Li said.
He said overseas investments were being encouraged by their companies and investors were being provided with incentives.
Zhao Wei Ling, deputy director of the province’s Department of Commerce, said their businessmen were interested in the agricultural sector, labor-intensive industries and the mining sector.
She said one reason for the interest in the Philippine market was the success of Chinese businessmen originating from Fujian province.
“One of the main reasons for investing in your country is that there are a lot of overseas Chinese who came from Fujian. They are quite successful business people. Henry Sy Sr. and Lucio Tan, they are all from Fujian province,” Zhao said.
She said Tan was a Chinese-born Filipino entrepreneur who owned Philippine Airlines, the Philippines’ flag carrier, and other companies like Fortune Tobacco Corp. and Asia Brewery Inc. His LT Group also had interests in banking and property development. Sy, born in Jinjiang, is a Chinese-Filipino business magnate, investor and philanthropist who owns the SM malls. He is involved in real estate, tourism, banking, mining, education and health care.
Tan and Sy are among the wealthiest in the Philippines.
In the tourism sector, Li said, the province and the Philippines were also keen on improving tourist arrivals both ways.
“We can see there are frequent people to people exchanges on both sides and the Philippines is a major tourist destination for Fujian people,” he said.
He said the Philippines was a major destination for Fujian people. On the other hand, Philippine tourists coming to China are also increasing. He said more than 100,000 Filipino tourists visited Fujian province last year.