Q: Philippine President Duterte delivered a speech at the launching ceremony of the Philippines' exertion of ASEAN rotating chairmanship on January 15, saying that the Philippines would stay committed to visions and values held dear by ASEAN and strove to achieve the common goal under its presidency. How do you comment?
A: We have seen relevant reports. The Chinese government always gives priority to ASEAN in developing neighborhood diplomacy, staunchly supporting the building of the ASEAN community, ASEAN centrality in regional cooperation and a greater role by ASEAN in international and regional affairs.
This year marks the 50th birthday of ASEAN and is designated as the China-ASEAN year of tourism cooperation. We are ready to step up dialogue and communication with ASEAN, make the year of tourism cooperation a success, forge new pillars of cultural and people-to-people cooperation, deepen mutually beneficial cooperation across the board, and bring fresh driving force to China-ASEAN cooperation.
Situation in the South China Sea has eased up thanks to the joint efforts by China and ASEAN countries. We are willing to work with ASEAN countries to focus on development and cooperation as we always do, properly handle disputes, devote ourselves to upholding the overall interests of China-ASEAN relations and promote regional peace, stability and prosperity.
China is poised to support the Philippines fulfilling its role as the ASEAN rotating chair, and move forward the building of the ASEAN community and China-ASEAN relations.