Belt and Road Initiative and the Bangsamoro Development

China throughout history has been an important player on the global stage. There are four periods of Chinese history: Confucianism, Colonialism, Communism and Socialism. Presently, China asserted its right in the international arena which gives rise to its modern standing. It is now an economic power in the world and came to prominence because of its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). 

After a decade, China has signed Memorandums-of-Understanding (MOUs) with 150 countries and 32 international organizations, among which 46 are in Africa, 37 in Asia, 27 in Europe, 11 in North America, 11 in the Pacific and eight in Latin America. China is now the world’s number one overseas investor. 

China's rise to power is called the post-American era in world history. The post-American world is characterized by the rise of multipolar world order in which the global system is no longer centered in Washington but in other countries. The emergence of Russia and China in the global stage is an unquestionable manifestation of this shifting international system.

There is a popular African saying which goes, ‘When the two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers.’ This is especially true in the Indo-Pacific region. Small and poor countries will be trampled upon if the Sino-American war happens. The fissures between the two elephants started a decade ago or even earlier. This means the Philippines should understand the effects and impacts of trying to side with the United States. 

The Philippines is in the firing line and it is seen as an important actor in the overall Indo-Pacific politics and war. Former President Rodrigo Duterte was able to put the Philippines in a neutral position. It extended friendly overtures to China while remaining an ally of the US. Notably, the Philippines is in a vital location as far as China’s main defense is concerned. The country sits in the first line of China’s defense against possible US attack. 

On economic parlance, the role of China in Philippine economic development is crucial as they both need each other. The Bangsamoro Government as part of the Philippines needs China for its development. As an emerging region of the Philippines, Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) needs China for infrastructure and socio-economic development for the Bangsamoro. The BARMM needs improved connectivity and cooperation on a regional scale. Among the most important projects that contribute to enhanced and increased economic growth are building ports and improved transport systems. This further connects Bangsamoro to China. 

Specifically, China through its BRI can bolster infrastructure connectivity, i.e., substantial progress should be made in the construction of roads, bridges and the transport system especially in remote communities and maritime connectivity, for instance, network of ports connecting mainland and island provinces of BARMM.

The development of BARMM reaches its peak and there should be air connectivity that facilitates cross-border transport from mainland to island provinces. Moreover, Bangsamoro can tap China on scientific and technological innovation, financial cooperation and poverty reduction and employment strategies. 

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The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of The Lobbyist.



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