November 5, 2017

Millions of Filipinos stand to benefit from the expanding Philippines-China relations. 


But only if Filipinos can adopt a more practicalable (practical and doable) approach to capitalize on the improving trade, tourism, and investment opportunities.


Even amidst disputes, relationships can progress by focusing on common ground and areas of practical cooperation. For example, “the husband and wife may not agree on one issue, but it does not mean they cannot do business and raise the children together,” said IDSI President George Siy in the forum on “Towards Inclusive Growth in Philippines-China Relations” held in Makati.


Siy pointed out that Filipinos only stand to gain from investments by any country because the markets, ecosystems, incomes, and skills will grow and lead to more investment. 


Just like when a commercial complex is built, other businesses and services also grow in the surrounding areas.


Dr Tina Clemente, Associate Professor of University of the Philippines Asian Center and the President of PACS, shared the encouraging trend of growing interest on China-related research among universities and research institutes/centers in the country.


The benefits for Filipinos will increase when more are aware of the the growing opportunities available. 


China is assuming ever greater roles in regional and global affairs, especially on trade and economic issues. Hence even the US and China, which are rivals in the global arena, are devising measures to sustain and foster good relations.

In fact many aspects of the Philippine’s economic relations with China directly benefit the average Filipino—both producers and consumers—thus contributing to more inclusive growth.


NEDA Public Investment Staff Director Hazel Baliatan outlined the advantages of partnering with China compared to most other donors, notably concessional or generally cheaper rates, can quickly commitments of large amounts, responsive to timelines, more cooperative in complying with the local requirements, and have proven technology and resources for massive infrastructure building. 


Likewise China plays an important role as a partner in building critical infrastructure all over the country.  Streamlining project preparation, fast tracking procurement of right of way and reducing bureacratic delays are measured being taken to ensure smooth implementation of public works projects, including those assisted or financed by China, noted Engr. Pelita Galvez of the Planning Service of the DPWH.


Although there is a perception that Chinese-made goods are low quality, our Iphones and Samsungs are actually also made in China.  Huawei technology is present in 170 countries worldwide and providing more afforable latest technology innovations to local telecom companies.  China’s train manufacturers are also used by the United States and the United Kingdom. 


Essentially the China market offers a wide range of goods and services at different price points.  This translates to more choices in terms of affordability.  It is up to the buyer to request and negotiate what level of quality they want. 


Millions of Filipinos are now empowered with affordable and good quality smart phones with prices starting at P1,000 thanks to the combination of Filipino ingenuity and creativity and the opportunities China offers to a budding entrepreneur.


This is exactly how Filipino businessman Eric Yu has been able to build one of the Philippine’s fastest growing local mobile phone brand, Cloudfone.  China helps Filipino enterprises offer a wider range of products and affordability, especially for Pinoy who cannot afford the other pricier options.  This allows more of the average Filipinos to connect with the Internet, to start their online business, or to educate themselves.


“The digital silk road belongs to the world, not to any country. The process of globalization is flowing in all directions. 


Among the biggest shareholders of China’s Alibaba is Japan’s Softbank and Yahoo USA; and WeChat’s biggest shareholder is a South African media company.  Alibaba is even helping promote digital infrastructure of the USA like Amazon and Ebay, not only just their own.  And this will be a base infrastructure for inclusive education,” noted IDSI President George Siy.


Huawei wants to invest more in the Philippines, but says the Philippines does not have enough engineers.

According to CHED, only about 18% of Filipino graduates finish a degree in STEM majors (science, technology, engineering mathematics).  In addition, the best of the country’s engineers work abroad, according to Wellington Liu of Huawei Philippines.


Meanwhile, our neighbors are ahead— 32% of South Korea’s graduates are STEM majors, while in China the rate is even higher at 40%.  In 2016, China graduated 4.7 million engineers, U.S. had 568,000.


Filipinos stand to benefit from China’s ambitious 21st Century Silk Road, To be part of the Silk Road means to be part of a highway of trade. This is like when the national highway crosses your property, the land property skyrockets overnight, just by being on its path. 


“With creativity and a bit of entrepreneurship, you and your family can gain more, for instance, if you open a sari-sari store, a guest house, or canteen,” IDSI President George Siy said. 


The multiplier effect of Chinese tourism is also huge.  Tourism is a booming industry that will be a source of growth for the Philippines.  “One of the benefits of tourism is that, unlike manufacturing, it can provide employment to a wide variety of educational preparation and skill levels,” according to AIM Center for Tourism Associate Professor John Paolo Rivera.


More than the number of foreign visitors that arrive in the country, another key indicator of tourism growth is how much tourists spend during their visits.  According to the DOT, Chinese tourists on the average spent about Php 97,032.11 per visit in the Philippines.  This means that with 1 million Chinese tourists, the Philippine economy stands to earn roughly Php 97 billion or about $ 2 billion annually.


As the country aims for inclusive growth, a more practical approach towards economic-powerhouse China unleashes a myriad of opportunities.  China’s domestic growth means Filipino entrepreneurs can sell their products and services to China’s burgeoning market.  China’s overseas commercial expansion mean Filipinos products and services at home can be more competitive.  It all depends on the limits of the Filipino imagination. 

 The Forum was co-organized with Philippine Association of China Studies (PACS) in celebration of its 30th Anniversary. (




DLSU Prof. Lysa Sanchez, PACS President Tina Clemente, IDSI President George Siy, Cong. Arthur Yap (Chair of the PH-CH Parliamentarian Association), Dr. Ellen Palanca, DPWH Engr. Pelita Galvez, NEDA Director Hazel Baliatan, Profs. Austin Ong and Lucio Pitlo.

​IDSI President George Siy, PACS President Tina Clemente, DLSU Prof. Lysa Sanchez, Huawei PH Wellington Liu, AIM Associate Director for Center of Tourism Dr. John Paolo Rivera, Cloudfone Founder Eric Yu, Profs Austin Ong and Lucio Pitlo.

IDSI engages in research cooperation, media and institutional dissemination of practical findings, project assistance and implementation, domestic and international policy formulation and lobbying, relationship building with local and international partners. Its members have been trade negotiators, resource people for government agencies, and local and international media.  It aims to help more Filipinos succeed in the global economy.  For more details, please contact

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