Ambassador Liu Jianchao Speaks at a Joint Celebration Luncheon for Filipino-Chinese Friendship Day and The Philippine Independence Day

On 10 June, Ambassador Liu Jianchao was invited to the Joint Celebration Luncheon for the 8th Filipino-Chinese Friendship Day and the 111th Philippine Independence Day sponsored by Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (FFCCCII). In his remarks, Ambassador Liu reviewed the achievements of bilateral cooperation in various fields between China and the Philippines and looked forward to even brighter prospects for the China-Philippine relationship.

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was invited to the luncheon as a keynote speaker. She spoke highly of the traditional friendship and mutually beneficial cooperation between China and the Philippines and expressed her appreciation for China’s important role in dealing with the global economic slowdown. President Arroyo was also presented by Ambassador Liu a scroll of Chinese painting which featured her meeting with 100 boys and girls who survived the 2008 Sichuan earthquake.

Please read the full text of Ambassador Liu’s remarks as follows.

H.E. President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo,

Respectful Dr. Alfonso A. Uy (President of the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Inc.),

Your Honorable Alberto Romulo (Secretary of Foreign Affairs),

Your Honorable Peter Favila (Secretary of Trade and Industry),

Your Honorable Secretary Arthur Yap (Secretary of Agriculture),

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

On yesterday, the 9th of June, in 1975, our leaders, with vision and resolve, signed the Joint Communiqué and started a new era for the China-Philippine relationship, endowed with a friendship dating to ancient times and dedicated to the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence. Through all vicissitudes of life, the past 34 years witnessed the growth of a resilient and vigorous bilateral relationship. The vision and resolve have stood the test of time. A great relationship, so endowed and so dedicated, has been proved enduring and sustaining. Today should be the time we celebrate.

In fact, today we have more to celebrate. We are met here also on the eve of the 111th Independence Day of the Philippines, the great country on the other end of that great relationship. I have come to pay tribute to those who have given their blood and toil so that this great country can survive and thrive. With respect and admiration, may I, on behalf of the Chinese Government and people, convey the sincere congratulations to Your Excellency Madam President, the Philippine Government and people on the upcoming Glorious Day. And I have also come to express gratitude to those who have made their efforts so that our wonderful relationship keeps growing. It is altogether fitting and proper that all of us here should do this.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I believe that the person who deserves most of our admiration for the contribution to the Chinese-Filipino friendship should be Your Excellency Madame President.

More than 34 years ago, as the founding co-chairman of the Association for Philippines-China Understanding, you began to work for diplomatic ties between our two countries in the middle of the Cold War. Your valiant endeavor pays off and the China-Philippine relations have rejoiced in a golden age. On 11 June 2001, you were the first Philippine President to visit the Chinatown in Manila and attended the Independence Day flag-hoisting ceremony. Since your declaration on 24 January 2002, we have celebrated the 9th of June of every year our Filipino-Chinese Friendship Day. Among many of your trips to China, in 2008, you went to Beijing for Summer Olympics, with which you created another “first-time” record by gracing an Olympiad as head of state of the Philippines. You cheered for the Philippine archer amid 38-degree sizzling heat. You took souvenir photos with your cell phone. You were doing what a common spectator would do. And you were so popular in China that many Chinese people later knew you were a good surfer and, just like one of them, a sports fan. Another most unforgettable scene was probably at Malacañang Palace this January when you hosted 100 boys and girls who survived the Sichuan earthquake in May 2008. “A Thankful Heart” was the song they sang for you and the Philippine people. It was one of those emotional moments interpreting our deep-rooted friendship. No one will ever forget that.

Unforgettable in particular should be the unique role of the Filipino Chinese community in both development of the Philippines and growth of our bilateral friendship. Just give you a quiz on history. Who was the first Chinese diplomat sent to the Philippines? I bet most of you don’t know. 110 years ago, Chen Gang assumed office as the first Chinese Consul General to the Philippines. What’s special about him? Chen was born in the Philippines and also named Engracio Palanca. His father Carlos Palanca was a very famous Filipino Chinese in the 19th century. Now I know my first predecessor was partly a Filipino Chinese.

Over hundreds of years, the Chinese immigrants have developed close ties with host countrymen, earned deserved merits through diligence and dedication, and evolved as a community respected and accepted by the Philippines. What has made the Philippines a country replete with immense potential? One of the answers must be a blend of the Chinese and Filipino culture of innovation, industry and aspiration for a better life. Credited for its outstanding contributions to commercial and industrial achievements, the Filipino Chinese community has also played a key role in promoting greater civic responsibility in such areas as public security, social welfare, emergency aid, poverty relief, illiteracy eradication and cultural exchanges. It also best exemplifies the values and actions needed on a larger scale to encourage further China-Philippine economic cooperation. What you have done will be long cherished and remembered. A closer and stronger bilateral relationship should be your best reward.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thirty-four years ago, our two countries were still haunted by the Cold War. Today, cooperation takes the place of isolation. Our strategic cooperative relationship is being enriched by inter-governmental agreements and dialogue mechanisms. Thirty-four years ago, our bilateral trade volume stood only around US$ 72 million. The figure today is 300 hundred times or more of that. Thirty-four years ago, our two peoples were estranged to somewhat extent. Today, we have forged more than dozens of pairs of sister provinces and cities. International flights are shuttling both Chinese and Philippine tourists back and froth everyday. And thirty-four years ago, financial exchanges between our two countries were almost non-existent. Today, we find our interests intertwined closer than ever before. In the face of this once-in-a-century financial crisis, we really find ourselves good neighbors and caring friends who help and support each other.

As a Chinese proverb goes, “A thousand mile journey begins with the first step.” It’s fair to say that China and the Philippines have taken our initial steps or even strides very well in carrying on our traditional friendship. Now we're on our journey toward a strategic and cooperative relationship for peace and development between our two countries and in our region. We shall not be consumed by some occasional and comparatively trivial differences. A strategic relationship demands us to make a choice: Shall we spend that time focused on what pushes us apart, or shall we commit ourselves to a sustained effort to seek common ground. This is a test of our time. The test must be answered and the answer is crystal clear to us all. That’s why China always bears in mind overall interests of our two countries and approaches our bilateral relationship from a long-term view. Divided, we fail and united, we prevail.

Chen Gang, my diplomatic forerunner, stayed in Manila for merely several months. His tenure was cut short for many reasons. But I am sure one of them should be the then turmoil and commotion back home where the Chinese people still found peace and stability something unreachable. I am much luckier not because I will definitely outstay him on my post in Manila, but because I am blessed with a precious opportunity to carry out my mission of duty and honor for continued advancement of our bilateral relationship in an all-round manner.

These many years of efforts and achievements, of breakthroughs and milestones, have shaped the China-Philippine relationship into one that is vibrant, encompassing and beneficial to both countries and peoples. We shall spare no efforts in making it more expansive and productive. Our bilateral relationship should have exhibited greater vitality and broader vista. And I have every confidence that all of us here today will make our due contributions.

Kaya natin ito! (Together, We can do it!)

Thank you and Mabuhay!

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