China envoy hopes for better Philippine ties
Pia Lee-Brago (The Philippine Star) - February 3, 2016 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines – Sending a message that Philippines-China relations do not revolve merely around maritime disputes, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario attended the Spring Festival reception on Tuesday and conveyed his greetings for a happy Chinese New Year.

Del Rosario had not attended receptions hosted by the Chinese embassy in Manila since the filing of the case against China before the United Nations arbitral tribunal challenging China’s expansive claims in the South China Sea.

When Del Rosario and his wife attended the Spring Festival reception at the Makati Shangri-La Hotel, they were welcomed by Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua, who told The STAR he was “pleasantly surprised” by the attendance of Del Rosario.

“I hope it will be the start of good things to come,” Zhao added.

Del Rosario and Zhao had a congenial conversation, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said.

Zhao noted that the coming year is the Year of Monkey. In the Chinese zodiac, the monkey symbolizes vitality, flexibility and intelligence. 

“The same goes for the bilateral relations between China and the Philippines. Despite the challenges and difficulties, our overall relations remained stable and developing in 2015,” Zhao added.

He said that China remains one of the top trading partners of the Philippines, noting that trade volume in the first 11 months of 2015 reached $41.46 billion, an increase of 2.3 percent. More than 400,000 Chinese tourists also traveled to the Philippines last year. 

“China and the Philippines should not be confused by the current and temporary difficulties,” Zhao said.

“We are close neighbors, we can not move away from each other. We are partners, we can benefit more if we can use the great potentials for win-win cooperation. We are friends sharing over a thousand years of friendship and amicable exchanges. We do have some differences and disputes, but China is committed to peaceful settlement through dialogue and negotiation with the Philippines,” he added.

He congratulated the Philippines for the successful hosting of the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting last November. Chinese President Xi Jinping participated in the meeting.

He also welcomed the Philippines as a founding member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

He noted that the AIIB offers great opportunities for cooperation in the sector of infrastructure and it would inject a greater vitality in current and future Philippines-China bilateral relations.

“The new year marks a new beginning. I sincerely hope and believe that through our joint efforts, we will continue to make progress and open a new chapter of win-win cooperation,” Zhao said.

ACIRC ASIAN INFRASTRUCTURE INVESTMENT BANK CHINA CHINA AND THE PHILIPPINES CHINESE AMBASSADOR ZHAO JIANHUA CHINESE NEW YEAR CHINESE PRESIDENT XI JINPING DEL ROSARIO PHILIPPINES SPRING FESTIVAL ZHAO
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