Remarks of Ambassador Ma Keqing at the launching of "China-Philippines Years of Friendly Exchanges"
Bulwagang Apolinario Mabini, DFA

-Your Honorable Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario

-Your Honorable Vice Minister Niu Dun, Special Envoy of the Chinese Government to this launching

-Dear Washington SyCip, Founder of SGV and Co.,

-Colleagues of the Diplomatic Corps,

-Ladies and Gentlemen,


Good evening!

Magandang gabi po sa inyong lahat!


It gives me a great honor and pleasure to address so distinguished audience tonight at the launching of "Years of Friendly Exchanges between China and the Philippines", kindly organized by the Department of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines.


As the new ambassador of China to this charming country-arriving here two months ago-I am just as excited as everyone else that in the next two years, we shall be witnessing events and activities in our respective countries that translate into reality our deep affection and regard for each other as good neighbors.


As the first event of this kind in our bilateral relations, the Years of Friendly Exchanges serves as a good opportunity for us to look back where we have come from, and map out the future of our bilateral relations.


National hero of the Philippines Dr. Jose Rizal used to say, Ang taong di marunong lumingon sa pinanggalingan ay di makakarating sa patutunguhan(He who does not know how to look back to where he came from will never get to his destination). When reviewing the relations of China and the Philippines, this dictum rings especially true.


Here I would like to share with you a story of "stone", which I was told by a local Filipino guide, when I visited the famous Intramuros. He told me that the Chinese had been doing business with the Filipinos here since centuries ago. They shipped silk, tea and ceramics from China, using heavy stones at the bottom of the boats for ballasts. As they set back to China, the stones were left behind. "Many a little makes a mickle". Eventually those became the foundation stones of the roads and homes of locals. Year after year, these stones were laid on each other, later to be known as "Piedra de China" or paving stones of China.


My guide said with emotion, "Over the centuries, the Chinese people have come here only for trade and friendship. They are our friends indeed." Later on, I have heard time and again the same "stone story." And it gives me much food for thoughts of our bilateral relations which I'd like to share with you.


First, we should cherish these "Paving Stones" of our bilateral

relations. China and the Philippines are close neighbors across sea. Over a thousand years of interaction between the two peoples have made our relations as harmonious and drawn together as the "Piedras de China" inlaid with roads.


In the past two months, I have met many friends in government, Congress, business, media, the Chinese Filipino community, and diplomatic corps. I am heartened by the kinship and affinity between our two peoples. It has made me even more convinced that we should carry forward the legacy of peace, friendship and cooperation left to us by our ancestors.


Secondly, we should make new "Ballast Stones" for our future relationship. I should say our relations are both "old" and "young". While our mutual exchanges have been going for a thousand years, our diplomatic ties are only 37 years old, and as such need to be nurtured. We should join hands in further expanding and deepening our broad-based and mutually beneficial cooperation to bring about tangible benefit to our two peoples, so that China-Philippines relations can be assured to have a steady and smooth sailing.


Thanks to the efforts of both sides, our cooperation has advanced in leaps and bounds over the last 37 years. During President Aquino's State Visit to China last year, the two sides set an ambitious goal of doubling the bilateral trade and tourist arrivals by the year 2016--which is inspiring and encouraging indeed!


Not the least, we should remove the "stumbling blocks" in the way of our bilateral relations. It is only natural that there are problems in our relations. I believe there has been consensus between the two sides that our overall relations should not be overshadowed by the problems. On the contrary, they should be enhanced, provided the problems are addressed properly.


We Chinese always see an opportunity out of a problem. Sometimes things may not look good, but if you work hard, there will be light at the end of the tunnel.


Dear friends,


Today's launching is a good start to the celebrations of the Years of Friendly Exchanges. "Well begun is half done."It is my belief and hope that, with our long-standing friendship, with the solid basis of all-round pragmatic cooperation, and with the full support of all the friends present here, the Years of Friendly Exchanges will be a complete success.The ship of China-Philippine friendship and cooperation shall be able to forge ahead to an ever brighter tomorrow.


To the friendship and cooperation!


Thank You and Mabuhay!

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