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U.S. voices displeasure over Japan-China “economic cooperation” in the Philippines

  • January 6, 2020
  • , Mainichi , p. 1
  • JMH Translation

In early 2019, the U.S. government expressed strong concern to the Japanese government over China’s involvement in an urban development plan near Manila in the Philippines that the Japanese government regards as a potential “Japan-China cooperation project in a third country,” multiple government sources disclosed. With Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s visit to Japan as a state guest slated for this spring, the administration intends to make the project a symbol of the improvement of bilateral relations. The government is racking its brain over how to respond to the U.S.’s displeasure. The intensifying confrontation between the U.S. and China is casting a dark shadow over economic cooperation between Japan and China.


“How will Japan handle this matter?” A U.S. government official asked a senior official of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry over the phone at the beginning of 2019. The senior official was surprised by the sharp tone of their American counterpart, a source said. The U.S. government official called the METI official to express dissatisfaction over the involvement of Chinese infrastructure companies in the New Clark City (NCC) development plan for the Philippine capital of Manila. Japan has been playing a leading role in the plan.


In July 2017, Philippine public corporations and Japanese government and private sector companies drew up a basic plan for the NCC development. The NCC is a project to create a “smart city” on a 3,630-hectare site taking advantage of advanced information technology.


In November 2018, when Chinese leader Xi visited the Philippines, however, the two governments agreed that Chinese companies will partially develop the smart city on 500 hectares of the overall site. In January 2019, the Chinese government approached METI for “Japan-China cooperation” in the NCC. It was then that the U.S. government expressed dissatisfaction with the Japan-China cooperation. One reason the U.S. strongly expressed discontent was that the site of the former U.S. Air Force Clark base is being used for the NCC. In addition to China’s ongoing construction of a freight railroad in the Philippines, now the PRC is getting involved in urban development in the country. The U.S. government is apparently alarmed by the development.


As the confrontation between the U.S. and China is impacting development assistance in a third country, Japan is being tested in its loyalty to both “the U.S. and China” over an urban development plan in a Southeast Asian country (according to a Japanese government source).

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