Speech by Ambassador Song Tao at the China-Philippine Traditional Culture Festival

Honorable Alfredo Lim, Mayor of Manila City,

Honorable Ko Mingsen, Chairman of the Organizing Committee of the China-Philippine Traditional Culture Festival,

Honorable Mr. Li Yuxi, Head of Fujian Culture Delegation

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good evening! Today, I feel much honored to attend the seventh China-Philippine Traditional Culture Festival. First of all, on behalf of Chinese Embassy and in my own name, I would like to express congratulations to the opening of the Festival and warm welcome for your presence. And also, I wish to extend my thanks to Manila City Government, City Council, Festival Committee, and Culture Delegation from Fujian province of China.

On this special occasion of Chinese Lunar New Year which is still celebrated by Chinese people, I would like to express the festival greetings to all the Filipino Chinese, Manila Citizens and all Filipinos. Wish you good health, harmonious family and everything going smoothly.

China and Philippines are close neighbors across the sea and the two peoples enjoy long-standing traditional friendship. There are many touching stories in the centuries of friendly exchanges between the two countries. The national cultures of our respective countries have been developed and enriched during the course of mutual learning and help of the two peoples. It has provided an important basis for developing China-Philippines friendly relations and cooperation.

Now, The Spring Festival is not only the most important festival for the Chinese people but also an significant festival for the Filipinos. This, I believe, fully demonstrates that the Filipino Chinese live in harmony with the local Filipinos. It also shows that our two countries are not only close neighbors, but also good friends and relatives. As Chinese people always hold friendly sentiments to Philippine people, we firmly believe that the friendly relations between China and Philippines will continue to be strengthened and move forward. This is also the wish and aspiration of Philippine people.

Since the establishment of diplomatic relations, especially in recent years, the frequent high level exchanges and contacts between the two countries has further deepened our mutual political trust. The pragmatic cooperation in various fields, including economic and trade collaboration, investment, tourism, culture exchanges, has brought about substantial fruits.The cooperation and exchanges at various levels, through multiple channels, has further promoted people-to-people exchanges and strengthened the understanding and friendship between two peoples. Under this background, the Philippine-China Traditional Culture Festival came forth in Manila City where most Filipino Chinese live. It provides a new platform for our cultural exchanges as well as people to people friendship.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

With the joint efforts of Manila City, Chinese Embassy and the Festival Committee as well as the concern and support of the friends from various circles, the Culture Festival has been successfully held for 7 years with an increasingly positive and important influence in the Philippine society. On February 4 this year, we were greatly honored to invite H.E. President Arroyo, Vice President De Castro and Foreign Secretary Romulo to attend the Spring Festival Reception hosted by Chinese Embassy. Their presence shows the joyful atmosphere of celebrating the Spring Festival in Manila and will further promote China-Philippine friendship and culture exchanges.

I believe, the Philippine-China Traditional Culture Festival not only strengthens the harmonious relations between Filipino Chinese and the people of all nationalities in Philippines, promote the development of local tourism, but also play a positive role in enhancing economic and trade cooperation and tourism exchanges between two countries.

Currently, both of our two countries enjoy good momentum of rapid development in social and economic development, and the China-Philippine strategic and cooperative relations enter into a new period of comprehensive development. Given the huge potential for bilateral cultural exchanges, we should seize the historical opportunity of the Culture Festival so as to make new contribution to the promotion of China-Philippine friendship and cooperation in various areas.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The year of 2008 will be a year of unusual significance and hope for our two countries. In the coming August, the 29th Olympic Games will be held in Beijing, the sister city of Manila. We, as the host, will spare no effort and enthusiasm in making the Olympic Games the grand opportunity for people around the world to understand, befriend and cooperate with each other. We warmly welcome athletes from the Philippines to take part in the Olympic Games and wish them success. We also welcome friends from Philippines to go to China and watch the games.

To conclude, I'd like to wish the seventh China-Philippine Traditional Culture Festival complete success. Wish the friendship between our two peoples everlasting. Wish you a happy, healthy and prosperous new year!

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