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Speech by Ambassador Song Tao at the Opening of Cultural Presentation by Wuxi Chinese National Dance Troupe in Puerto Princesa
(June 11,2008)
(2008/06/16)

Honorable Mayor Edward S. Hagedorn,

Honorable Governor Reyes,

Representatives of the Filipino-Chinese Society,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good evening!

A few days ago, we have just celebrated the 33rd anniversary of the establishment of the diplomatic relations between the People's Republic of China and the Republic of the Philippines and the 7th Philippine-China Friendship Day. Tonight, on the eve of Independence Day of the Philippines, I am honored to visit Puerto Princesa with the artists from the city of Wu Xi, the sister city of Puerto Princesa. Taking this chance, I would like to extend my cordial greetings and best wishes to friends present here tonight and people of Puerto Princesa and Province of Palawan.

Indeed, our visit on such a special day of historic importance is really significant in more than one way. China and the Philippines are close neighbors separated just by a strip of water, our friendship dates back to more than 1000 years ago. History had not only witnessed cultural and economic exchanges between our two peoples, but also our shoulder-to-shoulder combat against colonialism and joint struggle for national independence and prosperity.

Over the centuries, Palawan and Puerto Princesa played a very important role in friendly exchange between China and the Philippines. In ancient times, Chinese traders and migrants arrived in the Philippines by traversing land bridges between Borneo and Palawan. Pottery, china and other artifacts recovered from caves and the waters off Palawan attest to the once flourishing trade between Chinese and Malays centuries ago. Intermarriage among chinese migrants, Malay,Arab and Hindu contributed to distinct breed of Palawenos. Proof of friendship between Palawan and China is innumerable. We are not only good neighbors and close friends, but also trusted partners and dear brothers.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Since the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the Philippines, cultural exchanges between our two countries have been greatly enhanced. Such exchanges not only contributed to mutual understanding between our two peoples but also played an important role in promoting trade and economic cooperation between the two countries.

The sisterhood between Puerto Princesa and Wuxi has opened a new page in the history of friendly exchange between Palawenos and Chinese People. It would not only consolidate the historical links between us but also usher in a new age of friendly cooperation in a wide range of areas including trade, tourism, culture and education etc.

Much like Puerto Princesa is the pearl of Palawan and the Philippines, Wu Xi is one of the brightest pearl on the coast of TaihuLake. Located in the south of Wuxi Province, half way between the cities of Shanghai and Nanjing, Wu Xi is the cradle of China's national industry and commerce. That is why it is renowned as "little Shanghai". With rich natural resources and cultural heritage, Wu Xi is among the top ten tourist city in China. Since the reform and opening up, Wu Xi has made rapid progress in economic development, becoming one of the fifteen main economic centers in China. We have every reason to believe that sisterhood between Wu Xi and Puerto Princesa would not only add momentum to the development of the two cities but also make important contribution to bilateral relations between China and the Philippines.

Ladies and gentlemen,

One month ago, an extremely devastating earthquake occurred in China's Sichuan Province. Tens of thousands of Chinese people were killed in the earthquake while more people lost their loved ones, homes and properties in the disaster. All the Chinese people were deeply grieved by the sudden calamity. However, despite the sadness, the whole nation immediately devoted itself to the rescue and relief effort.

As the proverb goes, friend in need is friend indeed. Immediately after the earthquake, President Arroyo and many other political leaders expressed their deep sympathies and offered help to the Chinese government and people through different ways. Many Filipino friends, particularly Filipino-Chinese, acted quickly in aid of the rescue and relief effort by making generous donations of cash and materials. All these fully reflected the brotherly friendship between our two peoples.

On behalf of the Chinese Government, I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude to the Philippine Government and people once again! I'm confident that under the strong leadership of the Chinese Government and with the strong support of the international community including the Philippine Government and people, resilient Chinese people will eventually overcome all difficulties and win the battle against the disaster.

Last but no least, I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to the artists who traveled for a long distance to present to us a wonderful show tonight. Many people say that culture and arts are the emissaries of peace and the bridge of spiritual communication. I am sure that the Wuxi Chinese National Dance Troupe not only present us a wonderful show of traditional Chinese culture but also the Chinese People's brotherly friendship toward Palawenos and Filipinos at large.

Wish the friendship between our two peoples everlasting.

Wish the Wu Xi-Puerto Princesa Sisterhood flourish.

Wish all the friends good health, prosperity and happiness.

Mabuhay!

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