China-Philippine Friendly Relationship Will Last Forever (October 15, 2003)

Hon. Jose G. Lansangan, Jr.
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen:

It gives me great pleasure to meet with Your Honorable and all the friends present here today. I value much of the opportunity to share my views with you on “China-Philippine Relations in the 21st Century: Issues and Prospects”.

China and the Philippines are friendly neighbors separated only by a strip of water and the two peoples have enjoyed a time-honored friendship and cooperation dating back to 1,700 years ago. History record tells us that Chinese started to come to the Philippines as early as the 3rd century. The Tang and Song Dynasties saw close trade and cultural exchanges between our two countries. Chinese began to settle down here in the Philippines in the Ming Dynasty. They were well received and lived together in harmony and amity with local people. Today, numerous Philippine people have Chinese blood in their veins, if their roots are to be traced. And it is no exaggeration at all to say that there is genetic connection between the two peoples.

The establishment of diplomatic relations in 1975 opened up broad prospects for developing friendly relations on the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence between the two countries. Over the past 28 years, the two sides have made big strides in cooperation in various fields. There is a constant exchange of visits of high-level leaders and there are mechanisms of dialogues and cooperation at different levels between the two governments. The visit of H.E. President Jiang Zemin to the Philippines in 1996 and that of H.E. President Gloria Magapagal-Arroyo to China in 2001 are the most significant events in our bilateral relations.

Last August, H.E. Wu Bangguo, Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of China, paid an official friendly visit to the Philippines and attended the 4th General Assembly of the Association of Asian Parliament for Peace (AAPP). During Chairman Wu’s visit, China and the Philippines signed two important agreements. One is the Chinese Government providing US$ 400 million preferential buyer’s credit to help build the north-railways in this country; the other is the Currency Swap Agreement between the central banks of the two countries concerning US$ 1 billion. These will make important and positive contribution to the further development of our bilateral relations.

Economic and trade cooperation between two countries have developed rapidly. Bilateral trade volume in the first half of the year reached US$ 3.8 billion, 74% higher than that of the same time last year. Trading balance is in favor of the Philippine side, with a surplus of US$1.1 billion. China-Philippine trade cooperation is of great potential, we are expecting the trade volume to reach US$ 10 billion in the coming years. The agriculture cooperation of the two countries has made a remarkable success. China’s superior rice strains have been extensively cultivated in the Philippines. Last March, the construction of China-Philippine Agriculture Technique Center was completed with aid from the Chinese Government. The projects financed by the Chinese Government’s agriculture credit loan of US$ 100 million are also making progress. The China-Philippine cooperation in trade and other areas will further strengthen the basis for our bilateral relations. The wide range of exchange, coordination and cooperation between our two countries in the military, cultural and health fields as well as in the regional and international multilateral arena continue to make positive progress.

Reviewing the history of the past 28 years since the establishment of our diplomatic ties, we are satisfied with the achievements made in bilateral relations. In May 2000, China and the Philippines signed a Joint Statement defining the Framework of Bilateral Cooperation in the 21st century, opening high ground for bilateral ties in the new century. Looking ahead, we are filled with boundless confidence. It is of the most importance for both of us to keep on adhering to the following principles in order to enable China and the Philippines to remain good neighbors, friends and partners forever.

I. Continuing to maintain high-level exchanges and contacts between the two countries and enhance exchanges at all levels. China welcomes personages from the Philippine government and parliament as well as academic and journalistic circles to China for visits to further strengthen understanding and trust.

II. Deepening the cooperation in all areas. Expand mutually beneficial cooperation in trade, agriculture and investment, and broaden the exchanges and cooperation in poverty elimination, information technology, telecommunications, tourism, justice, fishery development, and fight against cross-border crimes.

III. Handing the differences properly. As for the problems remaining between the two countries, the two sides should, from a strategic high, calmly and properly deal with these issues, preventing them from undermining the bilateral friendship and basic interests of the two peoples.

IV. Strengthening cooperation in international affairs. Both developing countries, China and the Philippines extensively share common interests in international and regional affairs. Under the current world situation, the two sides should strengthen communication and cooperation in the United Nations (UN), the World Trade Organization (WTO), Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD), Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), ASEAN + 3 and ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) so as to contribute to international and regional stability and development.

As an ancient Chinese saying goes, “How nice it is to have good neighbors”. The Chinese people have all along cherished their intimate sentiments with the Filipino people. After all, there is no conflict of fundamental interests between us. What we share is similar historical experiences in the past and identical missions to accomplish in the future. The common interests of us far outweigh the differences over some specific issues. There is no reason for China and the Philippines to be hostile to or skeptical of each other. Instead, we have every reason to support and cooperate with each other. Therefore, to develop good neighborly relations with the Philippines is not an expedient policy, but rather an inevitable choice of China that conformed to the long-term interests of our two peoples.

Just a few days ago, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao attended the summit meetings of the 7th ASEAN plus China, Japan and ROK, and ASEAN plus China in Bali, Indonesia. During the meetings, Premier Wen Jiabao met with President Arroyo. Both the leaders expressed satisfaction over the smooth development of bilateral relations and hoped that the two countries’ cooperation would expand into more areas. During the meetings, by signing the document on strategic partnership for peace and prosperity between China and ASEAN, China has become the first strategic partner of ASEAN. China has also formally acceded to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC) in Southeast Asia. China’s participation in the treaty is a positive development in maintaining good relations with its neighbors and is also conducive to the regional peace and stability. There is no doubt to believe that China’s friendly relations with ASEAN countries, including the Philippines, has entered a higher level and will become much brighter and better in the 21st century.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

China-Philippine friendly relationship will last forever.

Thank you and mabuhay!

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