Remarks by Ambassador Zhao Jianhua at the Reception Celebrating the 68th Founding Anniversary of The People's Republic of China


I would like to thank you all for joining our celebration for the 68th Founding Anniversary of the People's Republic of China. With the Chinese traditional Moon Festival being just around the corner, I wish to send all of you in advance my heart-felt seasonal greetings.


In the over 5000 years of the Chinese civilization, the past 68 years are indeed very brief, but these are extraordinary and unprecedented years for the Chinese nation. Particularly over the past four decades of China's reform and opening-up, enormous progress has been scored in our economic, social and cultural undertakings as well as our interactions and cooperation with the rest of the world. Before long, the Communist Party of China is to convene her 19th National Congress, which will charter a new and more promising course for China's own development and its win-win cooperation with the international community.


Since President Duterte's successful state visit to China last October, China-Philippines relations have entered into a new era. In a short span of less than one year, our bilateral cooperation in various fields has yielded rich outcomes. Please allow me to highlight the following eight areas:


1. Increasing high-level exchanges. President Duterte attended the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing last May, and China's Vice Premier Wang Yang visited the Philippines last March. H.E. Premier Li Keqiang is expected to pay an official visit to the Philippines in the upcoming November, which will be the first visit by a Chinese Premier in a decade. We have also seen more frequent exchanges of visits at ministerial and senior-official levels in such areas as foreign affairs, national defense, commerce, investment, agriculture, information and tourism. The friendly interactions between our two ruling parties and inter-parliamentary exchanges also enjoy favorable momentum. The Honorable Senate President Pimental and the Honorable House Speaker Alvarez both paid successful visits to China this year. The CPC and PDP-Laban have strengthened mutual understanding and cooperation through a series of visits and exchange programs.


2. Comprehensive revival of bilateral mechanisms. China-Philippines bilateral consultations on foreign affairs, consular affairs, defense and security affairs, China-Philippines joint committees on economic & trade, and on agriculture & fisheries have all been resumed. Moreover, we have established two new mechanisms on maritime cooperation, namely the Bilateral Consultation Mechanism on South China Sea issue and the Joint Coast Guard Committee, both contributing to our common efforts to properly handle maritime issues and preserve peace and stability in our region.


3. Gratifying scores in trade and investment. Our warming bilateral relations have been translated into economic benefits for both sides. China is now the largest trading partner, largest import market and fourth largest export destination of the Philippines. According to China's statistics, our bilateral trade volume hit US$ 27.86 billion in the first seven months of 2017, with a 7.6% year-on-year increase. In December 2016, the Chinese importers committed to import 100,000 tons of tropical fruits from the Philippines. Since October 2016, the Philippines' fruits export to China registered a sharp increase of 50%. The Philippine mangoes, pineapples, dragon fruits and durians are among the most welcome commodities in the Chinese market. Furthermore, China's FDI to the Philippines reached US$ 35 million in 2016, a rise of 47% on a yearly basis, and in the first seven months of 2017, Chinese FDI already registered US$ 20 million, and there will be significant increase in the following years.


4. China's strong commitment to the Philippines' infrastructure development to synergize China's Belt & Road Initiative and President Duterte's "Build, Build, Build" Initiative. China has provided grants to build two bridges over the Pasig River. The groundbreakings are expected to take place in November. China will provide concessional loans to the Philippines' three priority projects, namely the south line of the north-south railway, new centennial water source Kaliwa dam and Chico river pump irrigation project. China will finance feasibility studies for the construction of Davao City expressway and Panay-Guimaras-Negros link bridge. Both sides, in the mean time, will identify the second basket of infrastructure projects which can be implemented in the following years. We are also working on the possibility of setting up a industrial park in the Philippines.   


5. Substantive progress in China-Philippines anti-narcotics cooperation. China fully understands and firmly supports the Philippines' fight against illicit drugs. China already provided the Philippines with two batches of equipment worth 436 million pesos, among which were drug detecting and testing equipment. The law enforcement agencies from China joined hands with their Philippine counterparts in preventing drug trafficking and secured significant achievements. Two drug rehabilitation facilities in Mindanao are expected to be launched this November. Since 2016, we have held more than 20 training programs for around 200 trainees from Philippine law enforcement agencies such as PNP, NBI and PDEA, similar programs are about to continue in the years to come.  


6. Helping hands to each other when hard times came. China made cash donations along with hybrid rice seeds to the farmers which were heavily affected by typhoons "Karen" and "Lawin", and also extended humanitarian aids to the Surigao earthquake rehabilitation. The Chinese Embassy donated 100 million pesos to the DSWD for its poverty relief and disaster response programs in the most poverty-stricken areas. To support the Philippines' anti-terrorism battle in Marawi, we have provided firearms and ammunition, relief for the displaced, medical treatment to the wounded soldiers and support to the fallen soldiers' families. Looking ahead, the Chinese side will surely play its due part in the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Marawi. As I am speaking, the Chinese side is actually organizing a new batch of engineering equipment for reconstruction with a total value of 150 million Pesos, and they will be delivered very soon. Since October 2016, the Chinese side has provided all in all more than 5.5 billion Pesos of grants and development assistance to the Philippines. Of course, we Chinese won't forget PDP-Laban extending helping hands to the landslide victims in China's Sichuan Province last June, once again affirming the amity and trust between our two peoples.


7. Remarkable people-to-people exchanges between our two countries. The exchanges between our local governments greatly paced up. There have been already 30 pair of sister-cities or sister-provinces established between China and the Philippines. Against the backdrop of 2017 China-ASEAN Tourism Cooperation Year, in the first half of 2017, Chinese tourist arrivals registered a massive surge, posing a 33.4% increase in comparison to 2016. We have every confidence to fulfil the target of 1 million Chinese tourist arrivals by the end of 2017.China has the strong potential to become the largest tourist source country to the Philippines in the years ahead.   


8. China's earnest support to the Philippines' rotating chairmanship of ASEAN. With ASEAN standing at a historical moment, celebrating its 50th Anniversary, China stands ready to contribute its due part to the building ASEAN Community, and step up mutually beneficial cooperation with the Philippines in this important endeavor. We can expect more fruitful results for both China-ASEAN cooperation and East Asia cooperation when Premier Li Keqiang comes to Manila for ASEAN Summit and Related Summits in November.  


Thanks to the vision and wisdom of our leaders, and concerted efforts of our two sides, we have achieved so much in just one year for China-Philippines relations. Please allow me take this opportunity to express sincerest appreciation to H.E. President Duterte for his determination and contribution to the strong growth momentum of our bilateral relations.  


Looking forward, as an old Chinese folk song goes, "Cherish not your golden robes, cherish rather the golden times. " Let us cherish this "Golden Era" of China-Philippines relations and seize golden opportunities to strive for more splendid years for China and the Philippines, a great friendship and a strong partnership, which will be thriving, rewarding and enduring.



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