'No strings attached' in Chinese grants to PH

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(File photo)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 17) — President Rodrigo Duterte led the groundbreaking ceremony for two bridge projects, both of which were from Chinese grants.

The event was held Tuesday in Intramuros, Manila.

The projects cost over ₱5 billion but given they are grants from China, the country would not spend a peso to have the bridges built.

The first bridge will connect Binondo and Intramuros in Manila, and the other one will link Makati and Mandaluyong cities.

Both are expected to help spur economic activity by decongesting existing bridges that are already traversing the same route.

These are just two of the many projects the country has with China, many of which are financed through soft loans. This is also a situation which some have raised concerns about the Philippines falling into debt trap with China.

In his speech, the President said in all of his discussions with Chinese officials, including President Xi Jinping, they have never asked for anything in return.

"I'd just like to tell everybody that in all if these Discussions, China did not ask any, even one square of real estate in this country," he said.

In a speech at the same event, Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua allayed these fears, saying, "China's grants does not have any strings attached to them. And China's loan to finance infrastructure projects will not make the Philippines fall into a debt trap."

Finance Secretary Sonny Dominguez also said the same thing, "We are aware that excessive debt especially for projects that are not economically viable are very bad. All our projects, especially our projects with China, are all economically viable."

President Duterte has yet to assert the arbitral ruling favoring the Philippines' claim over Scarborough Shoal.

He said he's giving China enough time.

"I'm sure that in the end, China will be fair and the equity will be distributed," the President said.