The Philippine-China Years of Friendly Exchanges were officially launched at the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Tuesday, ushering in a higher level of cooperation between the two countries.
Some 250 guests from diplomatic corps, government officials, the Filipino-Chinese community, business leaders, academic and cultural personalities attended the event.
Chinese Vice Minister of Agriculture Niu Dun, Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Ma Keqing and special envoy of the Chinese government sent to the Philippines for the occasion, led the Chinese guests in the launching program.
Addressing the launching ceremony, Niu Dun, special envoy of China, said the move provides an opportunity for people of the two countries to enhance exchanges and adds vitality to bilateral relations.
He said that political mutual trust serves as the basis for the development of relations between the two countries. China and the Philippines should persevere in mutual respect, seeking common ground while reserving differences, expanding common views through dialogue and properly handling disagreements to maintain friendship between the two countries.
"We should value the hard-won good momentum of growth in China- Philippine relations and adhere to the concept of maintaining long- term friendship from generation to generation and seeking common development," he added.
Niu expressed the belief that with successful launching of a series of activities in 2012 and 2013, the governments and people of the two countries will have a deeper understanding of each other.
In his speech, Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said "From this time until 2013, our two governments will be celebrating our friendship by hosting full calendars of cultural performances, visual arts and exhibits and other events and exchanges to build mutual trust and appreciation."
"We are confident that the Philippines-China Years of Friendly Exchanges can only usher in a brighter and more vibrant chapter in our enduring friendship between the Philippines and China," he added.
The Philippine-China Years of Friendly Exchange were designated by Chinese President Hu Jintao and Philippine President Benigno Aquino III when Aquino paid an official state visit to China last year.
The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries will host the launching of the friendly exchanges in Beijing in April.
Over the upcoming two years, there will be a string of activities in cultural and people-to-people exchanges, economic, tourism and party-to-party exchanges to nurture bilateral friendship.(Xinhua News Agency)