第五，中菲在馬可斯訪華結束時達成聯合聲明，包括設立熱線電話處理南海突發爭端和危機，避免誤判和誤傳。聯合聲明中的一個重要內容是菲律賓的基礎建設項目，即橫跨帕西格─馬里基納河（Pasig-Marikina River）橋樑和芒加漢河（Manggahan Floodway）橋樑建設項目。看起來，中國對菲律賓的基礎設施項目支持不僅是雙方經濟務實主義的重要組成部分，也是「一帶一路」外交政策的標誌。
China’s new relations with the Philippines and Turkmenistan
The recent meetings between the Chinese President, Xi Jinping on the one side and the Philippines President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. and Turkmenistan President Serdar Berdimuhamedov on the other side have important implications for China’s Belt and Road initiatives and foreign policy. Clearly, China is keen to forge closer relations with countries along the Belt and Road by emphasizing the importance of mutual strategic interests, the common objectives of achieving sustainability and win-win socio-economic and technological cooperation, and the necessity of maintaining peace in a new world international order in which the Chinese renaissance and peaceful rise are the defining characteristics.
President Marcos’s three-day visit from January 3 to 6 was politically and diplomatically significant in many aspects.
First, President Xi Jinping who met him on January 4 emphasized that his visit was the first one made by a top political leader outside China – an expression of appreciation of the friendly gesture from Marcos. Xi added that China and the Philippines had a long-standing historical bond in which Marcos’s father had established diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in June 1975. President Xi remarked that President Marcos’s current trip symbolized both “a nostalgic” and “a path-breaking” visit, reminding the young Philippines President of his meeting with Chairman Mao Zedong in 1974 when he accompanied his mother Imelda to visit the PRC.
Second, both China and the Philippines are economically pragmatic and keen to reach 14 agreements that cover agricultural cooperation, educational exchange, energy supply, environmental protection, infrastructural development projects, technological exchange, bilateral trade and human interactions. President Xi stressed that China has rich experiences in agricultural development and that it can and will help the Philippines to develop its agriculture, including the processes of cultivation, manufacturing, additional processing, depositing and logistical supplies, and products branding. Furthermore, both sides can and will collaborate in e-commerce, big data, infrastructure development, and oil and energy supply. Most importantly, the Chinese enterprises will invest in the Philippines and both sides will cooperate in the areas of climate change and aviation. As China and the Philippines are gradually recovering from the onslaught of Covid-19, both countries are naturally eager to strengthen all areas of cooperation.
Third, the Philippines under Marcos is, a bit like his predecessor Rodrigo Duterte’s diplomacy, more friendly toward China than the anti-China position of the late President Benigno Aquino III. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. tends to be far less anti-China than Aquino and yet less anti-American than Duterte. In other words, Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and his China advisers are striking a fine balance between the anti-PRC approach adopted by the late Aquino III on the one hand and the anti-US stance of Duterte on the other. His moderate approach tends to be far more pragmatic, moderate, cautious, economically wise, politically strategic, and diplomatically neither pro-US nor anti-China.
Fourth, both sides are keen to put aside their territorial disputes and instead accelerate the process of discussing the code of conduct for the South China Sea, while simultaneously exploring how to deal with maritime issues in a friendly manner through coordination and discussion. The PRC Premier Li Keqiang who met Marcos on January 4 emphasized the development of mutual trust and win-win cooperation through a pragmatic approach to coping with peace and stability in the South China Sea. A similar emphasis was made by the chairman of the National People’s Congress, Li Zhanshu, who said that the Sino-Philippines opinion differences can be tackled through friendly coordination. In response, Marcos remarked that the Philippines welcome the visit from more Chinese tourists and the investment from more Chinese enterprises. Clearly, both sides see pragmatism as the best approach to diluting opinion differences and putting aside any territorial disputes.
Fifth, both sides reached a Joint Declaration at the end of the Marcos visit, including the establishment of a hotline to deal with any sudden dispute and crisis over the South China Sea for the sake of avoiding miscalculation and miscommunication. One important element of the Joint Declaration is the infrastructure projects in the Philippines, namely the priority bridges crossing Pasig-Marikina River and Manggahan Floodway Bridges Construction Project. It looks as if China’s infrastructure project support for the Philippines is not only a key ingredient of economic pragmatism for both sides, but also a hallmark of its Belt and Road foreign policy.
This feature of pragmatism in China’s Belt and Road foreign policy can also be seen in the visit of Turkmenistan President Serdar Berdimuhamedov to Beijing on January 6, during which both sides elevated their relations to a comprehensive strategic partnership with cooperation in green energy, natural gas utilization, logistic chain supply, technology transfer and the emphasis in multilateralism.
Second, the Chinese enterprises, like the case of China’s relations with the Philippines, will invest more in Turkmenistan. Clearly economic carrots can be seen in the PRC’s Belt and Road foreign policy.
Third, security issues have been emphasized in President Xi’s discussions with Berdimuhamedov, including the deepening work in security implementation, biological safety cooperation, and the combat against “three forces” (terrorism, separatism and extremism). Berdimuhamedov said Turkmenistan supports China in safeguarding its sovereignty and territorial integrity, and his country resolutely opposes any attempt to divide China. Security cooperation is prominent in China’s relations with Turkmenistan.
Fourth, both sides cooperate in the realm of sustainable development, including public health collaboration, human interactions, media exchange,
Fifth, technology transfer from China to Turkmenistan has been made so that the latter can explore the development of gas and oil supply. Chinese loans were also made with cheaper interest rate to Turkmenistan so that the natural gas pipes of the central Asian state can be developed and completed. Economic aid and technology transfer from China to Turkmenistan had strategic value and interests, building up the mutual trusts and bonds between the two countries.
Sixth, in a joint statement, Turkmenistan reiterated that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China, and that it upholds the one-China principle and opposes “Taiwan independence” of any form.
In conclusion, China’s recently improved relations with the Philippines and enhanced relations with Turkmenistan show the defining features of its Belt and Road foreign policy. Pragmatism prevails in China’s economic cooperation with the Belt and Road countries, like the Philippines and Turkmenistan, including the areas of sustainable development, energy and gas exploration and supply, technology transfer, public health exchange, agricultural development, security collaboration, e-commerce development, and the investment of Chinese enterprises in these countries. The message is clear: China’s rise and its renaissance do not constitute any threat to the world; instead, the rise of China is actually peaceful, and it emphasizes the win-win cooperation with the achievement of mutual and common interests. The signing of Joint Declaration or Agreement in China’s Belt and Road foreign policy aims at consolidating the existing strategic relations between the PRC and its neighbouring states along the Belt and Road. Together with the assertive presidential diplomacy adopted by China, whose President Xi Jinping himself has met Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Serdar Berdimuhamedov, China’s Belt and Road foreign policy aims at winning the hearts and minds of different countries in the world, especially those developing ones, with mutual respect and high level of diplomatic importance accorded to them. As such, China’s multilateralism, peaceful image and win-win cooperation can hopefully be firmly established in the finesse of Chinese diplomacy and Belt and Road initiatives amid an increasingly hostile environment and an obviously Cold War mentality of international politics.