MANILA , PHILIPPINES – The Chinese Embassy in Manila called out Washington DC on Friday for “discrediting” China’s economic relations with the Philippines.

The statement is in response to a Philippine Daily Inquirer report citing State Department Undersecretary Victoria Nuland questioning whether Beijing’s “promises” in the past had actually generated jobs for Filipinos.

“China and the Philippines are natural partners for the geographical proximity, close kinship, and complementary advantages,” the embassy said.

“In recent years, under the strategic guidance of the two heads of state, China and the Philippines have deepened the synergy between the Belt and Road Initiative and the ‘Build, Build, Build’ and ‘Build Better More’ programs of the Philippines,” it added.

Further, it touted the various government-to-government cooperation projects and recently signed agreements between Beijing and Manila in agriculture and fisheries, finance, customs, e-commerce, tourism, etc.

The embassy added that the export of fresh Philippine durians to China is also expected to generate up to 10,000 direct and indirect job opportunities in farming, packing and logistics chain in the Philippines.

“Since (President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.’s) state visit many Chinese business delegations are coming to the Philippines, reaching extensive agreements on expanding trade and investment cooperation between the two countries, demonstrating the huge potential and broad prospects of China-Philippines practical cooperation,” it said.

It then went on criticizing the growing defense cooperation between the US and the Philippines, specifically Nuland’s remarks that Washington DC’s access to four more EDCA sites would bring “economic opportunities, jobs” to their host communities.

“Such cooperation will seriously endanger regional peace and stability and drag the Philippines into the abyss of geopolitical strife and damage its economic development at the end of the day,” the embassy said.

In a comment, US Embassy spokesperson Kanishka Gangopadhyay said Washington DC’s commitment to defend the Philippines remains “ironclad” and that it would continue to strengthen their economic and investment relationship.

“My only response to the PRC (People’s Republic of China) statement is to repeat what we have said for some time: The United States and the Philippines enjoy an alliance and partnership based on deep historical, economic, and cultural ties, and our shared democratic values,” he said. “The United States and the Philippines stand together as friends, partners, and allies.”

The Department of Foreign Affairs earlier said Nuland and Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo met on March 6 and discussed developments in the West Philippines Sea as they previewed plans for the upcoming US-Philippines defense and foreign ministerial meeting.