MANILA, JULY 9, 2006
(STAR) President Arroyo announced yesterday that China’s largest listed telecommunications manufacturer is planning to put in $1 billion worth of investments in Compostela Valley in Mindanao.

Mrs. Arroyo said ZTE Corp. would invest $1 billion in the impoverished province now that Mindanao has somehow regained peace and stability.

"I brought with me the chairman of the ZTE (Hou Weig)i, the Chinese corporation with the largest value traded in the Shenzhen Stock Exchange," Mrs. Arroyo said. Together with the China Development Bank, they are bringing into Compostela a $1-billion investment," Mrs. Arroyo told members attending the joint Cabinet-regional development council meeting in Cotabato City.

In a related development, Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr. said yesterday the Chinese government has granted the Philippines’ request to build a major industrial park at Clark Field in Pampanga.

De Venecia said the establishment of an industrial park at the former American base would help generate jobs for many Filipinos and improve the country’s sagging economy.

In Compostela Valley, the $1 billion worth of investments accounts for half of the $2-billion projected investments that China plans to pour into Mindanao.

ZTE is reportedly China’s largest listed telecommunications manufacturer with shares publicly traded on both Hong Kong Stock Exchange and Shenzhen Stock Exchange.

Mrs. Arroyo also said the amount is part of the $4 billion in various Chinese investments in the country, which are mostly funded by China Development Bank.

Trade and Industry Secretary Peter Favila said ZTE, which is also state-owned, wants to ink a Memorandum of Understanding with the government regarding their investments to the country.

Favila said the investments "may not be only in the areas of telecommunications but also other areas."

Mrs. Arroyo said the China Development Bank also plans to pour investments in mining.

She said the government would soon achieve the forging of a peace agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) that would pave the way for Mindanao’s economic progress.

Mrs. Arroyo said it is now up to the stakeholders to cooperate and work for a peace agreement and take advantage of the aid coming from the United States, Malaysia, and the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC).

Clark industrial park to rise

The proposed Clark industrial park will house various Chinese manufacturing plants and medium-scale companies, De Venecia said.

He added he has already relayed the good news to Mrs. Arroyo after Beijing officials confirmed their decision to put up an industrial park in the country.

The park is just one of the five major proposals of the Philippine government to China. The government has also proposed to China to provide one million low-cost houses and 100,000 classrooms.

Guangdong and Shandong — China’s top provinces at the forefront of its economic miracle — have shown interest in providing low cost houses for Filipinos through concessional financing.

"Two of China’s biggest provinces have shown interest in taking part in the construction of pre-fabricated housing factories in Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao.

The proposed housing units will be anti-typhoon, anti-earthquake and anti-termites," De Venecia said.

Guangdong, with a GDP of $268 billion, is China’s leading province, Shandong ranked second. Both provinces typifies China’s dramatic march toward industrialization along its eastern seaboard. Each has a population of over 90 million people.

China’s largest state corporations also agreed to provide housing factories and housing financing and said construction companies here could use China’s housing materials that are cheaper than European and American materials.

"We will be able to produce highly affordable housing units for the benefit of the greater masses of our people," De Venecia said.

He happily noted that Chinese leaders were receptive to their proposals.

"They gave us a strong, positive response," De Venecia said.

The Speaker said top leaders of Guangdong and Shandong also supported his large-scale Philippine fisheries programs of 2,000 fish cages in the sea.

China also agreed to support De Venecia’s request to rehabilitate some 250,000 hectares of coastal and inland fishponds.

He said these programs, once completed, would improve productivity and introduce a technology of mixing new species of fish, including the mixing of the bangus (milkfish) with new species of white shrimps. This technology is now undergoing testing at the Bureau of Fisheries.

De Venecia said he would ask the President to call a meeting with local government officials to ensure that all provinces would benefit from the low-cost housing program through the installation of low-cost housing factories in various parts of the country.

"This is the best way the great masses of our people will directly benefit from our anti-poor programs," he said, adding that the housing program will create at least six-10 jobs per house.

The Speaker just came from a 10-day visit in China, where he conferred with China’s No. 3 leader Wu Bangguo.

Bangguo honored the De Venecia and Philippine delegates with a banquet at the Great Hall of the People. — Paolo Romero, Delon Porcalla

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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