MANILA, Philippines – Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo met with several Chinese businessmen seeking to invest in the Clark Freeport and Special Economic Zone.
Arroyo’s office sent pictures of her luncheon meeting with 19 Chinese traders as well as officials of the Clark Development Corporation on Tuesday, August 28.
Among the Chinese businessmen she met with was Chuanjian Feng, chairman of the Golden Eagle Investment Corporation. Feng is also a member of the national committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, the political advisory body of the China.
"The Chinese government encourages its entrepreneurs like Jack Ma to engage in private enterprises and I had a meeting with some of them since they are interested in putting their investments here in Clark,” said the former president turned Pampanga 2nd District representative.
Arroyo said one of the Chinese traders, whom she did not name, is interested to invest in a 10,000-hectare agro-industrial development in Clark.
Arroyo supports the decision of President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to strengthen ties with China, previously saying the Philippines' friendship with the Asian economic giant is "just right."
Like Duterte, Arroyo supported a joint undertaking with Chine in the West Philippine Sea. During her term, the Philippines entered into the controversial Joint Marine Seismic Undertaking (JMSU) with China and Vietnam, where the 3 countries agreed to conduct a joint seismic study in the West Philippine Sea.
Arroyo critics alleged that she committed "treason" in allowing the JMSU, which expired in 2008. That same year, a petition was filed asking the Supreme Court to void the JMSU, evern after it had lapsed, to prevent a repetition of a similar agreement in the future. (READ: Duterte admin revives Arroyo policies, controversies)
Because of the JMSU, Arroyo was seen as "considerably more receptive" to Beijing's commercial incentives and was "apparently willing to compromise" the country's claims, according to an International Crisis Group report. (READ: Why China prefers Arroyo over Aquino)
Arroyo’s presidency was also rocked by the controversy surrounding the botched $329-million National Broadband Network (NBN) deal signed by the Philippine government with China’s ZTE Corp in 2007.
In September 2016, the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan already junked the remaining graft cases against Arroyo over the NBN-ZTE deal.