PH to honor contracts with Chinese firms despite US blacklist – Palace

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(FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 1) — All deals with Chinese companies will proceed as planned as Malacañang refused to follow sanctions imposed by the United States against Chinese companies involved in illegal activities in the South China Sea, Malacañang said.

"Sangley project will continue. All other projects involving Chinese companies that are banned in the United States can continue in the Philippines," Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a Tuesday media briefing.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro "Teddy Boy" Locsin, Jr. said last week that he will recommend ending contracts with Chinese firms found to be behind incursions in the South China Sea. This was after Washington blacklisted China Communications Construction Company and its subsidiaries, including China Airport Construction Corporation, which is the partner of taipan Lucio Tan's MacroAsia Corporation in upgrading the Sangley airport in Cavite.

Governor Jonvic Remulla earlier told CNN Philippines that he will await guidance from the national government on how to proceed with the ₱500-billion deal, which was awarded to the MacroAsia and CCC partnership in February.

Roque said the Philippines is not duty-bound to mirror US actions as the country is not a "vassal state."

"Ang pang-nasyonal na interes natin ay masigurado na matapos ang flagship projects under the 'Build Build, Build' program [Our national interest is to ensure that we can finish flagship projects under the 'Build Build, Build' program," he added.

Meanwhile, Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian confirmed that all projects involving Chinese companies in the country will proceed as planned.

“We have taken note of the statement made by the Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque that President Duterte charted an independent foreign policy course that puts the national interest at the core,” he said in a radio interview. “And that the national interest of the Philippines is to ensure the completion of the flagship projects under the Build Build Build program.”

Xilian added that China’s Belt and Road program and the Philippines’ Build, Build, Build initiative have achieved “fruitful results.”

“I believe that any attempt to undermine the normal economic cooperation between China and the Philippines will never succeed,” he said.

The Chinese ambassador assured that Chinese firms involved in projects will comply with existing Philippine laws and regulations.

In 2016, a Hague-based international tribunal ruled as invalid Beijing's sweeping territorial stakes in the South China Sea and recognized Manila’s sovereign rights within areas of its exclusive economic zone which China claims. Despite the ruling, China has continued with its incursions in features covered by the Philippines' exclusive economic zone.