HAINAN, China—President Rodrigo Duterte’s attendance to the Boao Forum for Asia will be an opportunity for him to highlight the country’s economic achievements and priorities, particularly in business and economics, Philippine Ambassador to China Jose Santiago Sta. Romana said on Monday, April 9.
Sta. Romana said in an interview here with the Philippine media that aside from Chinese President Xi Jinping, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi will also be present during the forum. Singapore is the current chair of the ASEAN.
Mongolian Prime Minister Ukhnaa Khürelsükh will also attend the forum as well as representatives from Europe.
Other top attendees include UN Secretary-General António Guterres and IMF managing director Christine Lagarde.
“So as you could see, it’s gonna be a gathering of top leaders and I think it’s quite a privilege for President Duterte to be invited here and to be able to use this platform to highlight the remarkable progress that has been achieved in the Philippines and as well as to explain his economic priorities,” he said.
These priorities include the infrastructure program by the Duterte administration.
It will also be an opportunity for President Duterte to exchange experiences and best practices with China, with other Asian countries, as well as with the UN and IMF, he noted.
Former President Ramos was one of the proponents of the Boao Forum for Asia. The forum became a platform for major leaders in Asia as well as businessmen and academicians to come together to discuss Asia’s economic problems, challenges and prospects.
“In a sense, it was like an answer to the Davos Conference in the west, you know. Why not have one for Asia and they chose this island of Hainan, this fishing village of Bo’ao, that’s how it became chosen and was… It grew over the years, over the decades actually,” he said.
China open to hiring more Filipinos
In the same media interview here, Sta. Romana said China may soon hire more Filipinos.
He said the Chinese market is opening up to Filipinos to work here, including English teachers and domestic helpers.
“Right now, it is a case-by-case basis. There are Filipino teachers in China but they found the jobs on their own. You know, they sought it out and they are hired,” Sta. Romana said.
“But there used to be a Chinese rule that excluded the Philippines as a legal source or as a source that they encouraged. They wanted to emphasize what they called native speakers but they have relaxed it now,” he said.
Sta. Romana said China is now allowing English teachers not only from native speaking countries but also from former colonies of native speaking countries.
“When they allowed that, it was very clear the Philippines was part of that, it could not be excluded,” he said.
“So now they are more open, they are more accommodating and there’s growing need in China to learn English,” he added.
Sta. Romana said that they are also in discussion with China on the possibility of hiring more domestic helpers.
“The Chinese middle class is growing, they look at what’s happening in Hong Kong, and there is a growing demand for English-speaking helpers,” Sta. Romana said.
“But of course, there are a lot of problems to be solved. You know, we want to make sure that they are covered by social security, you know, that they’re not subject to unfair rules. So we want the assurances.
And so that one, there is no agreement yet. It’s still being discussed by both sides,” he said.
“There’s a lot of details still to be resolved because if the Chinese market open up to us, they have to open up to other foreign markets. You know, they have to balance their policy. And from our point of view, we want assurance in terms of medical, you know, social security and other legal protection if ever we come to an agreement on this. But the potential is there and the demand is there. So the prospects are actually quite good,” the envoy said.
According to Sta. Romana, there are quite a number of Filipinos already working in China as professionals, including engineers, advertising executives, and even journalists.
“There are more Filipinos now working here. So on the professional level, actually the markets are open in terms of you know, because it’s an international market, the international companies and some Chinese companies are also hiring,” he said. PND