|Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Ma Keqing at China's National Day Reception on Tuesday with DFA Acting Secretary Laura del Rosario. Photo by Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News
MANILA - Even with its looming change in leadership, China reiterated that it would keep its policy of “peaceful development.” China also expressed hope that its bilateral relations with the Philippines will go back to normal despite an ongoing territorial dispute.
In a message during China’s National Day reception held Tuesday night, Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Ma Keqing underscored the importance of Philippines as a neighbor to China.
Ma said tensions between the Philippines and China have eased “in the last few months,” also citing the “important meeting” of Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping and Interior Secretary Mar Roxas.
“I wish joint efforts will be continued with the aim of overcoming current difficulties and bringing the bilateral relations back to the track of normal development. I believe this is in the interests of both sides and is conducive to the peace and stability of our region,” Ma said during the celebration of the 63rd founding anniversary of the People’s Republic of China.
Ma said that “friendly cooperation” between the two countries has led to “tangible benefits.”
She cited “double-digit annual growth of trade, steadily increasing two-way investments as well as cultural and people-to-people exchanges.”
This is despite China’s decision to ask the Philippines to pay back its official development assistance of around US$500 million to fund the North Rail project.
Neverthless, Ma expressed confidence that China’s relations with China will continue to grow.
“The Philippines is an important neighbor to China. Amicable interactions between the Chinese and the Philippine people have forged affinity and kinship, which has withstood the test of history and time,” Ma said.
China gave an assurance that it would keep its policy of peaceful rise even with its looming 18th National Congress that would give way to a transition to a new leadership.
Xi is the presumptive successor of Chinese President Hu Jintao.
“There is no doubt that China’s basic state policy of peaceful development and opening to the outside world will remain unchanged. China will be all the more determined to go for peaceful development, follow the win-win strategy of opening up and implement the policy of good neighborliness with neighboring countries,” Ma said.
Philippines 'hand-in-hand' with China
In her response, Foreign Affairs Acting Secretary Laura del Rosario said the Philippines is looking forward to the “expansion” of the country’s trade with China, hoping that it “would double during the next four or five years.”
“Being with good friends and neighbors, we are confident that no matter what challenges we face as neighbors or as a region, we would be working hand-in-hand with China,” del Rosario said.
“As the People’s Republic of China celebrates its anniversary, we toast to its bright and strong future, a future where the Philippines and China will continue to be friends, will continue to be good neighbors and partners in development,” she added.
Other Philippine officials who joined the reception were former President Fidel Ramos, Vice President Jejomar Binay, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Presidential Adviser on the Political Affairs Ronald Llamas, Philippine Special Envoy to China Domingo Lee, Ilocos Norte Rep. Imelda Marcos, Manila Rep. Zenaida Angping, and Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim, among others.