Remarks by H.E. Ambassador Zhao Jianhua at the Gala Celebrating the 43rd Anniversary of the Establishment of Diplomatic Ties between the People's Republic of China andThe Republic of the Philippines & The 17th China-Philippines Friendship Day
9 June 2018

Ladies and Gentlemen,


        I am greatly pleased to celebrate, together with all of you, the 43rd Anniversary of the Establishment of Diplomatic Ties between our two countries and the 17th China-Philippines Friendship Day. I would like to warmly welcome colleagues from Cultural Exchanges Department of All-China Federation of Returned Overseas Chinese and Embrace China Art Troupe, and thank the Philippine Government and the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Association of the Philippines for your precious support.


       China and the Philippines are close neighbors separated only by a strip of water and our friendship dates back to many centuries ago. Since H.E. President Duterte took office in 2016, China-Philippines relations have achieved an overall turnaround and sustained growth. In 2018, we have every reason to believe that China-Philippines relations will be moving forward with more progress.


Our strategic mutual trust has been consistently deepened. Last April on the sidelines of Boao Forum for Asia 2018 Annual Conference, President Xi Jinping met with President Duterte for the fifth time since the latter's assumption of office. We can still recall the successful official visit to the Philippines by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in November 2017. A series of dialogue and consultations in such areas as foreign affairs, defense, energy, economy and trade have been revived. More significantly, two new mechanisms, namely Bilateral Consultation Mechanism on the South China Sea (BCM) and  Joint Coast Guard Committee on Maritime Cooperation (JCGC) have been set up to properly handle maritime issues and promote mutually beneficial cooperation.


Our warm bilateral relations have been translated into economic benefits for our peoples. China-Philippines trade volume in 2017 registered US$ 51.28 billion,with 8.5% year-on-year increase. China now already stands out as the Philippines' top trading partner and import origin.  Since October 2016, the Philippine fruits export to China secured a marginal growth of 50%. Nowadays, the Philippine mango, pineapple and dragon fruits are super popular to Chinese consumers. China has spared no efforts in adding strength to the Philippines' "Build, Build, Build" initiative.  The construction of drug-rehab centers respectively in Sarangani Province and Agusan del Sur Province are well underway. Yesterday, the Chico River Pump Irrigation Project funded by Chinese soft loans broke ground in Kalinga, which will benefit over 4300 families in that region. Furthermore, two bridges over Pasig River are soon to have their groundbreakings quite soon.


        China also rendered firm support to the Philippines' fierce campaign against drugs and terrorism. China provided the Philippine law enforcement agencies with badly needed drug detecting and testing equipment. The two sides joined hands in cracking down upon narcotic criminals. When Marawi operation rolled out, China rendered its helping hand by donating firearms and ammunition. After Marawi operation completed, China was among the first to offer relief for displaced residents, medical treatment for the wounded, support to the fallen soldiers' families and a batch of engineering equipment with a total value of US$ 3 million for Marawi's reconstruction.


Our people-to-people exchanges are also greatly booming. The exchanges between China and the Philippines' local governments have witnessed the growing of 30 pairs of sisterhood cities or provinces. In 2017, the number of Chinese tourists visiting the Philippines doubled, topping one million already. In 2018, the Philippines received more than 370,000 Chinese tourists in the first quarter. We are more than confident that the goal of 1.5 million or even 2 million would be achieved this year. We are also observing thriving China-Philippines interaction and exchanges involving media agencies, think-tanks, universities, education and culture.


President Duterte said before he set off to Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2018 that he would like to foresee the relationship between China and the Philippines to "bloom into something like a big and beautiful flower". I am fully convinced that the flower of friendship between our two great countries, cared by our two visionary leaders and our sincere peoples, will surely blossom into even brighter excellence.  


Wish all of you a wonderful and memorable night.


Thank you.


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