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Speech by Ambassador Song Tao at the Spring Festival Reception

H.E. President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo,

H.E. Vice President Noli De Castro,

Hon. Secretary Alberto Romulo,

Excellencies from the Diplomatic Corps,

Representatives from the Filipino-Chinese Community,

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Good evening! First of all, please allow me to express my heartfelt gratitude to H.E. President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo for her presence gracing this gala night. Her Excellency's presence not only speaks for the Filipino People's best wishes to the Chinese People, but also demonstrates the high importance Her Excellency and the Philippine Government attached to the Philippine-China Relations. As all of us can feel, it is also the Philippine Government's best recognition of the Filipino-Chinese Society's contribution to the economic development and social progress of the Philippines. Let's applaud again to express our warmest welcome and gratitude to Her Excellency President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo!

I would also like to extend my warm welcome to all Filipino-Chinese and other friends from various sectors. On this special occasion of celebrating the Spring Festival, the Chinese New Year, I am honored to express, on behalf of the Chinese Government and Chinese People, my seasonal greetings and best wishes to all Chinese compatriots, Filipino Chinese, representatives of Chinese Companies as well as teachers and students living, working and studying in the Philippines. It is also a great pleasure for us to celebrate and enjoy this joyful festival with the friendly Filipino People.

For the Chinese People, 2007 is a year of unusual significance. Over the past year, China's comprehensive national strength has further strengthened and people's livelihood has greatly improved. In the meantime, the Chinese People has enhanced exchanges and cooperation with people of other nations, actively engaged in the proper settlement of hotspot issues, and strived for building of a harmonious world of lasting peace and common prosperity. The Communist Party of China successfully convened its 17th National Congress which mapped out a grand blueprint for building a well-off society in an all-around way. The Chinese People are writing a new chapter of better life by making full use of their diligence and wisdom

2007 also witnessed the positive progress of the China-Philippine relations. The frequent high level exchanges and contacts further deepened our mutual political trust while pragmatic cooperation in various fields has brought about substantial fruits. Our bilateral trade volume grew by 30.8% to 30.6 billion US dollars, with the Philippines enjoying a surplus of 15.6 billion US dollars. We have reached 3 years ahead of schedule the trade volume target of 30 billion US dollars for year 2010 which was set out by President HU Jintao and President Arroyo.

Ladies and gentlemen,

2007 is also a year all Filipinos can be proud of. Under the leadership of President Arroyo, the hard working people of the Philippines made great progress in economic and social development. The GDP of the Philippines grew by 7.3%, the highest in 31 years. On behalf of the Chinese Government and People, I am honored to congratulate the Government and People of the Philippines on your great achievement. It is my belief that our burgeoning economies would bring new opportunities for trade and economic cooperation.

In the past year, our Chinese compatriots in the Philippines and Filipino Chinese worked very hard and