DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 28 October) — The Chinese Consulate-General here will be inaugurated at 5 p.m Sunday, October 28, two years after it was proposed to President Rodrigo Duterte during his state visit to the People’s Republic of China.
Duterte welcomed China’s proposal to open a Consulate-General in Davao “in due course” in a joint statement with China’s President Xi Jinping on October 21, 2016 at the end of his four-day state visit there.
Among those who will grace the inauguration are Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. and Mayor Sara Duterte. Wang and Locsin are scheduled to hold bilateral talks on Monday.
Located along Acacia Street in Juna Subdivision, the People’s Republic of China leased a year old boutique hotel, C-Tree, in April this year and renovated its interiors. It also fenced off the area.
The Consulate-General had its first flag ceremony on Friday, a member of the local staff told MindaNews.
In a statement sent to MindaNews, Abu Khayr ALonto, chair of the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) and Philippine signing minister for the BIMP-EAGA (Brunei Indonesia Malaysia Philippines – East ASEAN Growth Area) said “the opening of the Consulate General of China in Davao reflects maturing bilateral ties between China and Mindanao, boosted by increasing trade and heightened development cooperation.”
“Mindanao stands to gain from the expected rise of trade, tourism and socio-cultural exchanges with China, which the newly-opened Consulate here can effectively facilitate,” he said.
Chinese Consul General Li Lin has been assigned in Davao City since April.
Speaking at the Mindanao Business Conference in Tagum City on September 13, Li said Mindanao is facing a rare opportunity for growth with the signing of the Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and the country’s proposed shift to a federal form of government.
He said the Bangsamoro law will be an important element to provide a safer and more secured environment for Chinese investors while federalism would allow local governments to craft flexible policies to attract new businesses.
“Safety and security is very important element for a place to develop healthily. The Chinese people, in the last 40 years of reform and opening, have the deepest experience that stability is of vital importance for economic progress,” he said.
He vowed to help promote various business opportunities in various parts of Mindanao and the BIMP-EAGA to Chinese investors.
An advisory from the Chinese Consulate-General said that aside from Secretary Locsin and Mayor Duterte, it also invited Mindanao’s 27 provincial governors and 33 city mayors, regional directors of different agencies, military officials and the diplomatic corps.
Arturo Milan, President of the Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (DCCCII) told MindaNews in April that they anticipate the opening of the Consulate-General “will trigger increase in Chinese presence in Davao either as tourists or doing business.”
“It will now be more convenient to transact business with China because we don’t need to go to Manila,” said Vicente Lao, chair of the Mindanao Business Council (MBC) and Regional Development Council co-chair and private sector representative.
The Chinese Consulate-General will be open to the public starting Monday, October 29 but visa issuance will not be available as yet. The public will be notified when the office can start issuing visas.
The Consulate-General here will be the China’s third outside Manila. China has a Consulate-General in Cebu and a Consulate in Laoag.
The Chinese Consulate-General here is the fourth consulate in Mindanao, after Indonesia, Japan and Malaysia, all located in Davao City.
But it is the fifth consulate established in the city.
Sebastian Angliongto, DCCCIII Life Chair and Chair Emeritus of the Mindanao Business Council had told MindaNews in April that there was a Chinese Consulate here years ago, the abandoned building still standing in a compound fronting the Santa Ana Church.
Angliongto said it opened in the early 1950s when the Republic of China (Taiwan) established diplomatic relations with the Philippines. At that time, the country had no diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China.
He said the consulate closed down after the Philippines adopted a “One China” policy in 1975, recognizing only one sovereign state — the People’s Republic of China.
This policy led to the severance of ties with Taiwan and their relations have since been limited to cultural and economic affairs through the administrative office, the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO).
Angliongto said the opening of a Chinese Consulate here will boost investments and tourism. He said flights from China direct to Davao City are also to be expected, allowing Chinese tourists and investors a faster way of coming to the city and allowing as well residents of the city and the rest of Mindanao to visit China without having to fly to Manila.
The Chinese Consulate-General is located on the same street as the Ateneo de Davao University’s Matina campus, towards Ecoland and is 85 meters away from After Dark, Duterte’s favorite midnight watering hole. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)