Remarks by Chargé d'affaires a. i. Tan Qingsheng at the Dinner Celebration for the 121st Independence Day of the Republic of the Philippines & the 18th China-Philippines Friendship Day
 Good Evening.

It is my honor to join you in the celebration of the 121st  Independence Day of the Republic of the Philippines and the 18th China-Philippines Friendship Day.  First of all, on behalf of the Chinese Embassy, I would  like to thank the Federation of Filipino Chinese Chambers of Commerce & Industry for its great effort in hosting this event. My heartfelt appreciation also goes to all those who have contributed to the continuous growth of China-Philippines relations.

As Saint Thomas Aquinas says, "There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship".  China and the Philippines are close neighbors sharing time-honored bonds of friendship.  Back to more than a thousand years ago, people-to-people exchanges and commercial ties between our two countries were already flourishing.  We have many proud names to honor and memorize in the history of China-Philippines friendship.  The great Chinese navigator Zheng He visited Manila, Visayas and Sulu during his overseas voyages in Ming Dynasty.  The descendants of the Sulu Sultan , who paid a goodwill visit  to China with his family and 300 other people  in 1417, are still living in Dezhou, Shandong Province of China with the family names of An and Wen.  As a matter of fact, our two peoples are also connected with kinship.  The ancestors of Jose Rizal, the founding father and national hero of the Philippines, came from Fujian province of China. Today, if you visit  the Jinjiang City of Fujian Province, you will see a Rizal Shrine with a 18.61-meter-high Rizal monument there which  was inaugurated in January 2003. The outstanding Chinese General Ye Fei, who fought for the founding of the People's Republic of China, was also born in Quezon.   

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The long-lasting friendship between our two peoples in the past paved the way for the continuous growth of bilateral ties in present days and days to come. Since President Duterte took office in 2016, under the strategic guidance of our two leaders, China-Philippines relations have witnessed turnaround, consolidation and elevation, and entered a new golden age.  

 Firstly, our strategic coordination on bilateral and international affairs have been greatly reinforced. For the past three years, President Xi Jinping and President Duterte have met for 7 times. We still recall President Xi Jinping's successful state visit to the Philippines last November, the first of such kind in the past 13 years.  During the visit, we have signed more than twenty cooperation documents and elevated our bilateral relationship to comprehensive strategic cooperation.  Two months ago, President Duterte led a high-level delegation to attend the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation.  The Philippines has become a natural partner in jointly building the Belt and Road initiative.

Over the past three years, a series of dialogue and consultation mechanisms have been revitalized such as foreign affairs, defense, energy, economy and trade consultations.  It's worth mentioning that both sides are committed to properly managing the South China Sea issue through the Bilateral Consultation Mechanism on South China Sea (BCM).  What's more, we are working together with other ASEAN partners to strive to complete the Consultation on Code of Conduct in South China Sea in three years, with the aim of  turning the South China Sea into a sea of peace,  friendship and prosperity.

Secondly, our cooperation in various fields have generated tangible benefits for our peoples.  In 2018, bilateral  trade volume reached US$55.7 billion, with an 8.5 percent year-on-year increase. China is now the Philippines' top trading partner,  the largest source of imports and the fourth largest export market. China is also one important foreign investment origin of the Philippines with  US$ 66.62 million of investment last year. China has imported more than US$ 2 billion tropical fruits from the Philippines over the past two years.  Last year, we have imported US$ 496 million bananas, becoming the biggest overseas market for  Philippine bananas.   

A friend in need is a friend in deed. In support of the Build, Build, Build Program, China has provided RMB 2.75 billion(around US$400 million) of grants and US$ 273 million of soft loans over the past three years to bolster infrastructure development in the Philippines. A number of major infrastructure projects are making considerable progress. The two drug-rehab centers in Mindanao have been completed and turned over to the Philippine side ahead of schedule, which provided about 800 job opportunities for locals and will cater at least 300 patients. 13 school buildings funded by the Chinese embassy are being built in Mindanao, which could provide 52 classrooms for more than 2000 students. The two bridges over the Pasig River in Manila are under construction and will significantly ease traffic jams in those areas. Other major projects including the Chico River Pump Irrigation, New Centennial Water Source-Kaliwa Dam and the Philippine National Railway's South Long Haul are being pushed forward in a steady pace, and will contribute to the development of agriculture and transportation in the country.

Thirdly, people-to-people exchanges between our two countries have been on the rise as well.  Nowadays, more than 300 flights are shuttling between the cities of our two countries every week.  Last year, there were 1.2 million Chinese tourists visiting the Philippines, with a 29.6 percent yearly increase.  China is now the second largest tourist origin of the Philippines. We are expecting more than 1.5 million Chinese tourists to visit the Philippines this year, which will create more than 32 billion pesos of revenue for the local economy.  More than 30 pairs of sisterhood cities or provinces have been established.  Both sides are working to implement the MOU for two thousand Filipino English-language teachers  to work in China this coming September.  China is going to set up a Cultural Center in Manila in the coming years so as to enable more Filipino friends to better understand and experience Chinese culture.       

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This year marks the 70th founding anniversary of the People's Republic of China. Over the past seven decades, China has made tremendous achievements in economic and social development.  Since its reform and opening-up four decades ago, China has maintained an average annual growth rate of 9.5%.  Today, China's GDP stands at US$12 trillion, second only to the United States.  One important lesson we have learned during the past seven decades is that development can never be achieved through unilateralism and isolation.  "Divided, we fail and united, we prevail".   

Recently, the China-U.S. trade frictions have attracted great attention from the international community, including the Philippines. Let me  emphasize three points here. Firstly, the so-called trade war was unilaterally imposed on China.  For the past several decades, trade between China and the United States has increased 252 times from US$ 2.5 billion to US$ 622.5 billion, which benefited not only China, but also the ordinary  U.S. consumers. A trade war will not only bring immense economic damage to our two countries, but also to the whole world. Due to the prospect of trade war, the World Bank and IMF have both lowered their projections of  2019 world economic growth by 0.3 percent. The question we need to ask is whether a superpower should put its own narrow interest over other countries and the world at large.

Secondly, negotiation is the art of compromise based on mutual respect and equal footing. One party unilaterally imposing its will on the other is not negotiation.  It's called bullying and hegemony.  China does not want a trade war, but we are not afraid of one and we will fight one if necessary. For the past two centuries, we have been in worse scenarios, but  we have survived and flourished. The trade war will not break China, but make us even stronger. We will continue to pursue development with the commitment to further opening-up and achieve win-win outcome through cooperation with other countries.  

Thirdly, free trade and market principles are the foundation of our global economy.  What the U.S. is doing is to undermine these basic principles and  politicize and magnify trade disputes.  It is very dangerous when a superpower is not only building physical walls on its borders, but also building tariff and technology walls against other countries.  If the trend continues, the phantom of the Cold War and the clash of the civilization as advocated by some U.S. Officials may seem not too far away.   

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As the old Chinese proverb goes, "the journey is difficult when making it alone; while the journey becomes easier when more people get involved." In a world with unprecedented changes, China will continue to be the Philippines' good neighbor, sincere friend and reliable partner.  Let's join hands to level up cooperation, coordination and connectivity between our two countries, so as to make the Golden Age of bilateral relations even brighter.  

Thank you and Mabuhay!

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