Remarks by H.E. Ambassador Zhao Jianhua at the Gala Celebrating the 120th Independence Day of The Republic of the Philippines &The 17th China-Philippines Friendship Day

Good evening!


 I am very pleased that you join us tonight in the celebration of the 120th Independence Day of the Republic of the Philippines and the 17th China-Philippines Friendship Day. On behalf of the Chinese Embassy, I would like to take this opportunity to extend my heartfelt appreciation to the FFCCCII and all those who have contributed to the growth of China-Philippines relations.


Our two countries have a long history of friendship and amity. During the past 43 years since diplomatic ties were established, our two countries have been exploring the development paths based on our own national conditions. China has become the second largest economy in the world. China's current GDP per capita already amounts to 158 times of that in 1978 since it adopted the policy of reform and opening-up. The Philippines, known as one of the Four Asian Tigers, has also registered fast GDP growth rate. In recent years, your GDP growth on average has been standing at around 7%, taking the lead in the Asia-Pacific region and the whole world at large.Our two countries have embarked on a new journey to strive for our national development through advancing reforms. It is high time that both sides join hands to achieve our shared goals.


Since President Duterte took office in 2016, China-Philippines relations have secured a successful turnaround and entered into a phase of steady growth, well poised to embrace more fruitful achievements. The partnership between our two countries have been garnering steady support from three major pillars, namely, political and security affairs, economic relations and trade, and people-to-people exchanges.


First, both countries have deepened mutual trust. Up till now, President Xi Jinping and President Duterte have met for five times on both bilateral and multilateral occasions. Premier Li Keqiang paid a successful official visit to the Philippines in November 2017. Both countries have also resumed and established a series of bilateral dialogue and cooperation mechanisms. Looking forward, we are confident that our two countries will be more determined to deepen mutual trust and more capable to enhance mutual interests.


Second, both countries have unleashed cooperation potentials. In 2017, China-Philippines trade volume exceeded US$ 50 billion for the first time, making China the Philippines' top trading partner, top import origin and the fourth largest export market. China's investment to the Philippines reached around US$ 54 million in 2017 alone, representing a year-on-year increase of 67%. China firmly supports the Philippine Government's "Build, Build, Build" initiative. The two drug-rehab centers in both Sarangani Province and Agusan del Sur Province are already under construction. The two bridges over the Pasig River are about to have their groundbreakings soon. Just hours ago, the Chico River Pump Irrigation Project, the first project funded by China's soft loans in President Duterte's term, was launched. China was also prompt in providing weapons and ammunition to the Philippines for the Marawi anti-terrorism battle, and construction utility machinery for the Marawi reconstruction and rehabilitation. 


Third, both countries have witnessed flourishing people-to-people exchanges. China now stands as the second largest tourist origin to the Philippines. In 2017, the number of Chinese tourists visiting the Philippines doubled that in 2016, topping one million already. The number of Chinese tourists visiting the Philippines in the first quarter of 2018 alone reached 370,000, increased by 50%. Exchanges and cooperation are also thriving between China and the Philippines in terms of sisterhood provinces and cities, science and technology, education, culture and arts, media agencies, think-tanks, and youth affairs, which kept injecting fresh vigor into our profound traditional friendship.


Ladies and Gentlemen,


President Xi Jinping once said, "For any country or nation to achieve rejuvenation, they must follow the logic of history and the trend of the times in their pursuit of progress and development." The world is undergoing new and significant changes and developments, and a new wave of industrial and technological revolution is reshaping the global economic pattern. Only if we focus on development, could we grasp the current momentum and harvest the outcomes of development. China stands ready to level up its cooperation with the Philippines, and join hands with the Philippines to achieve common progress, so as to bring forth benefits to our two peoples and promote sustained peace and prosperity in our region.


Thank you and Mabuhay!

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