Noy to China: Future can be brighter through mutual respect

The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Relations between the Philippines and China have improved despite the two nations’ maritime spat, according to President Aquino and China’s top diplomat in the country.

In his speech during an Independence Day celebration organized by the Federation of Filipino Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Inc. (FFCCCII) and the Filipino-Chinese community in Manila Friday night, Aquino thanked the business organization for the important role it played in fostering greater understanding and closer ties between the Philippines and China in the areas of culture, trade, investment “or even in the informal manner in which you have served as a channel of communications, given the disputes in the sea known by many names.”

FFCCCII is composed of some of the biggest names in business in the country.

“These efforts have certainly helped us – both the Philippines and China – continue to pursue peace, stability, and inclusive progress in our part of the world,” Aquino said.

For his part, Zhao, who shared the stage with Aquino and shook his hand after his speech, said bilateral trade relations between Manila and Beijing were growing despite “recent difficulties,” apparently referring to the South China Sea dispute.

Zhao described the Philippines and China as “partners” and “relatives” apart from being neighbors.

The Philippines has a pending arbitration case against China through which it seeks a reaffirmation of its maritime claims and contest Beijing’s expansive nine-dash line position.

Trade relations between the two countries have been lopsided in favor of China. Even in tourism, more Filipinos are visiting China than there are Chinese going to the Philippines.

But Zhao said the number of Chinese tourists who visited the country based on latest figures reached half a million and that Chinese visitors were poised to become the third largest in the Philippines.

The ambassador said these were “strong beginnings” and “great potential” for cooperation between the Philippines and China.

“To promote our bilateral friendship and cooperation serves the fundamental interests of our two countries, the wellbeing of our two peoples, as well as the peace and stability in our region,” Zhao said.

“China attaches great importance in our relationship with the Philippines and has always regarded Philippines as a friend rather than foe, partner rather than rival. I firmly believe that the future of China-Philippine relations will be brighter, friendship between our peoples will be deeper, bilateral cooperation between our two countries will be more fruitful,” the ambassador added.

Always ready to help

The President said the FFCCCII and the Filipino-Chinese community have extended immense assistance to Filipinos –  from medical missions to donations of vehicles, equipment and even funding to the Philippine National Police, providing students with safe and durable classrooms and families with low-cost housing.

 “There is your consistency, your dependability whenever disaster strikes: whether it’s a fire, a typhoon, or an earthquake, the FFCCCII has always been ready to help victims of calamities,” Aquino said.

“This isn’t new to you; I’ve thanked you many times before. Yet, given the weight of my responsibilities these past six years, I have to express my gratitude for the way you have taken part in building our nation,” the President added.

Aquino said since 2010, his administration has worked to provide a better business environment for groups like the FFCCCII. 

“We are the new darling of Asia; our economy is among the most resilient and the best performing in the world, which I’m sure you have felt in your respective businesses. More than seven million Filipinos have risen above the poverty line – seven million Filipinos who have the ability and the confidence to work in your factories and offices, or who have the capacity to buy your products and make use of your services,” Aquino said.

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