China’s Fujian targets more investments in PH with improved Manila-Beijing relations

Deputy Director General Li Lin (L) of the Fujian Province People's Government and Zhao Wei Ling, deputy director of Fujian's Dept. of Commerce (Division of Asian Affairs) brief visitors on the province's outlook, July 16, 2017. PHOTO BY DALE DE VERA, NEWS5

FUZHOU, Fujian Province, China – With ties improving between Philippines and China, some local investors here are setting their eyes on the Philippines.

Officials from Fujian province here said that some of their investors are looking at agriculture and mining sectors in the Philippines.

Deputy Director General of Fujian’s Foreign Affairs Office Li Lin said, “Fujian and the Philippines are only divided by sea and are very close. We would like to cooperate with the Philippines in the areas that we are strong.”

Lin added that proximity and historical ties of the two countries have made it more attractive for Chinese industries to do business with Filipino groups.

The local officials pointed out that the Philippines has become home to Chinese from Fujian province, giving them more reason to invest.

For her part, Zhao Wei Ling, the Deputy Director of Fujian Provincial Department of Commerce, pointed to Filipino tycoons Henry Sy and Lucio Tan as among the successful Fujian natives who made big businesses and investments in the Philippines and control many of the local industries such as manufacturing, trade and banking.

Zhao said the Philippines ranks as the second biggest market for Fujian’s foreign direct investments in the region, next to Singapore; and is the province’s second largest export market in ASEAN.

Since President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office last year, Chinese officials said, trade volume between the Philippines and Fujian has grown to 6.9 billion dollars due to improved relations between Manila and Beijing despite the territorial dispute.

Aside from mining and agriculture, Li said most local business groups are also looking at exploring possible investments and joint ventures in the manufacturing sector, electronics, machineries and equipment and chemical industries.

Tourism market

Meanwhile, Li said that Fujian is also a big potential for the tourism market of the Philippines with its almost 37 million population.

“We can see there are frequent people-to-people exchanges on both sides and the Philippines is a major tourist destination for Fujian people,” Lin added.

Over the years, Lin said, Philippine tourists coming to China have been increasing and last year grew to more than 100,000 Filipinos visiting the Chinese province facing the west of Taiwan Strait.

One of Fujian’s more popular cities, Xiamen, is only two hours by plane and is fast becoming a favorite tourist destination for Filipino travelers.