MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte has hailed the “enduring friendship” between the Philippines and China in a message marking the Lunar New Year.
Duterte, who has pursued friendlier ties with China amid unresolved disputes over the South China Sea, said the Philippines and China share a “long and colorful history” that has “contributed to our rich culture, stimulated trade between our nations and fortified the foundation of our continuing quest for economic development.”
The President also described the Chinese-Filipino community as an integral component of Philippine society.
“Chinese-Filipinos will continue to play an important role in shaping our national identity and in upholding the beauty of diversity in our respective cultures,” he said in a message released Thursday.
“Let the joy of this occasion strengthen our sense of solidarity and goodwill as a single nation committed to the preservation of our unique and multi-faceted Filipino heritage.”
Since assuming the presidency, Duterte has sought closer ties with China along with Russia, as he pursued a shift away from the Philippines' traditional alliance with the United States.
Duterte once said the Philippines is better off mingling with “oriental” China instead of dealing with the US.