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Philippines Still Open to Chinese Takeover of Shipyard Despite Security Concerns

Andreo Calonzo and Ditas Lopez
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Philippines Still Open to Chinese Takeover of Shipyard Despite Security Concerns

(Bloomberg) -- The Philippines says it isn’t closing its doors to Chinese investors interested in Hanjin Heavy Industries Construction Co. Ltd.’s local shipbuilding facility, despite security concerns raised by the possibility of Chinese firms taking over the shipyard.

The government is “open to all proposals” for investment in Hanjin’s facility, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana told Bloomberg News on Thursday. But the Southeast Asian country will consider national security as the shipyard is located near the disputed South China Sea, parts of which are claimed by both the Philippines and China, he said.

“There are so many things riding on the rehabilitation of Hanjin that must be taken into consideration: the investors’ money, the workers and the economic benefit of the shipyard,” said Lorenzana, who has proposed that Manila acquire the shipyard to build its own navy and coast guard vessels.

Read more about recent moves in the Philippine-China relationship

Philippine Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez also said his department hasn’t barred investment from Chinese or other foreign citizens interested in Hanjin’s facility. Japan’s Nikkei Asian review reported Thursday that the Philippines plans to exclude Chinese bidders from buying the country’s largest shipyard, citing comments from an unnamed trade official.

Eight companies from U.S., Japan, Korea and the Netherlands are keen on investing in the shipyard after Hanjin filed for debt restructuring and was subsequently put under receivership in January, Lopez said earlier this month. Chinese firms are interested in investing in Philippine shipbuilding facilities, but not necessarily Hanjin, he added.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who has grown closer to China -- setting aside the nations’ territorial row in favor of Chinese infrastructure funding -- is scheduled to meet Chinese leader Xi Jinping in Beijing on Thursday. Duterte is on his fifth visit to China since taking power as a participant in Xi’s annual Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation.

To contact the reporters on this story: Andreo Calonzo in Manila at acalonzo1@bloomberg.net;Ditas Lopez in Manila at dlopez55@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Cecilia Yap at cyap19@bloomberg.net, Karen Leigh

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