Your Honorable Rafael Seguis, Acting Secretary of Foreign Affairs,
Your Honorable Senator Ferdinand Bongbong Marcos,
Ambassador Christian Anthony Vihruri, Deputy Dean of the Diplomatic Corps,
Representatives, Government officials of the Philippines,
Excellencies, Colleagues of the Diplomatic Corps,
Members of the Chinese Community,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of the Chinese Embassy, I would like to extend warm welcome and sincere thanks to you for joining us in celebrating the 66th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China.
Since the founding of the People's Republic, especially since the beginning of the reform and opening-up, China has made remarkable achievements in economic and social development. We have turned our country into the world's second-largest economy and lifted 1.3 billion people from a life of chronic shortage, and brought them initial prosperity and unprecedented rights and dignity. This is not only a great change in the lives of Chinese people but also a major contribution to world peace and development.
At the same time, we are also soberly aware that China remains the biggest developing country in the world. China's per capita GDP is only two-thirds that of global average, ranking around 80th in the world. Measured by the World Bank standard, we still have more than 200 million people living under the poverty line. It will take long and arduous work to ensure over 1.3 billion people a better life.
China will continue to focus on economic development and, on this basis, work to promote social progress across the board. China has set a development goal for itself, that is, to double its 2010 GDP and per capita urban and rural income, to complete the building of a moderately prosperous society by 2020, and to build China into a modern socialist country that is prosperous, democratic, culturally advanced, and harmonious by the middle of this century. We have identified this goal as the Chinese dream of great national renewal.
To realize the Chinese dream, we must comprehensively deepen reform and keep to the path of peaceful development. China is ready to work with other countries to build a new type of international relations with win-win cooperation at its core, and build partnerships so as to jointly open a new vista of common development and shared security. China has been a participant, a builder and a contributor of the existing international system, and stands firmly for the international system that is based on the purposes and principles of the UN Charter.
Instead of unraveling the entire system, China will work with all other countries to improve the system for the common interests of all countries. China's Belt and Road Initiative, the establishment of the Silk Road Fund and the proposal to set up the AIIB are all aimed at supplementing the current international system and at helping the common development of all countries.
China will continue to promote economic integration in the Asia Pacific region, and the free trade area of the Asia Pacific in particular so as to facilitate the sharing of a free, open, convenient and dynamic space for the regional development. Last year, China successfully hosted the APEC meetings. I would like to take the opportunity to thank the Philippines and all other economies for their positive contribution. China will continue to support the Philippines for the smooth and successful hosting of the coming APEC meetings.
China will continue to develop and strengthen relations with ASEAN under the principle of "amity, sincerity, mutual benefit and inclusiveness". China will continue to give priority to ASEAN in its neighbourhood diplomacy, and is ready to work hand in hand with ASEAN for a sound, stable and dynamic China-ASEAN relationship.
Hon. Acting Secretary Rafael Seguis,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
China and the Philippines are not only neighbours, we are also close relatives with a history of friendly exchanges for more than a millennium. We should and we can be better friends and better partners. As we celebrate the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations, we need to remember that we have made significant progress in our efforts for common development, which has laid a solid foundation for more comprehensive and fruitful partnership. It is our common responsibility to tap and grasp the great potentials of bilateral friendship and cooperation that will serve the fundamental interests of our two countries and the well-being of our two peoples. It is time to think what we can do together to improve and strengthen our relations.
Please allow me to highlight a few things that can enhance our multifaceted and comprehensive relations.
First, bilateral trade. In 2014, bilateral trade between China and ASEAN hit a record high of USD 480 billion, increased by 8.2%, much higher than the growth rate of China's global trade. China remains ASEAN's No.1 trading partner for five years running. Bilateral trade between China and the Philippines rose by 17% and reached USD44.4 billion last year. China has emerged as one of the biggest markets for the Philippines, accounting for 11.4% of the country's exports or about USD 6.46 billion. With the upgraded version of China-ASEAN Free Trade Area to be finalized and the ASEAN Economic Community to be established before the end of this year, there will be greater chances to increase our bilateral trade to a higher level.
Second, bilateral investment. In 2014, China invested USD 5.9 billion in ASEAN countries, over 40 times higher than that of 2003, registered an average growth rate of 42% from 2003. By the end of 2014, China's ODI stock in ASEAN countries reached USD 32.5 billion, and the Philippines constitutes only 1.3%. With the establishment of AIIB, the Silk Road Fund which is USD 4 billion and the implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative, there are great potentials for China to increase investment in the Philippines, particularly in the areas of infrastructure development, industrial capacity cooperation and agriculture.
Third, bilateral tourism. In 2014, the number of tourists from the Mainland China to ASEAN countries reached 11.4 million, making China the top tourist source country of ASEAN. Thailand received 4.4 million, Vietnam 1.7 million, Singapore 1.4 million. But only 402,000 came to the Philippines. Some experts say each Chinese tourist spends about USD 1500 to USD 3000 on each trip. China is willing to work with the Philippines to increase the number of Chinese tourists to the Philippines. I am sure that it will be possible to raise the number to around 1 million in the next three to five years.
Given these great potentials, I am optimistic about the future of our bilateral relations. We may not be able to see eye to eye on some issues, what matters most is that we seek common interests by fostering and strengthening friendship and cooperation.
To conclude, may I propose a toast:
To the health and happiness of H.E. President Benigno S. Aqunio III and H.E. President Xi Jinping,
To the prosperity and happiness of our two peoples,
To the friendship and cooperation between China and the Philippines,
To the health of all the guests,