MANILA (UPDATE) - The relationship between the Philippines and China has remained warm despite differences, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin said Monday, on the eve of the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two nations.
In a video statement, Locsin said the friendship between Manila and Beijing has flourished “into a new partnership for mutual profit and progress.”
He recalled how the late President Ferdinand Marcos “defied taboos of the Cold War” and “boldy established diplomatic relations” with the People’s Republic of China with his first lady Imelda Marcos becoming, according to Locsin, “an icon of Chinese womanhood.”
On June 9, 1975, Marcos, who ruled the Philippines in a dictatorship for 14 years, and Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai signed a joint communiqué establishing diplomatic relations between the Republic of the Philippines and the People’s Republic of China.
“Since then there has never been a break in the friendship between our peoples,” Locsin said.
Referring to then President Corazon Aquino, Locsin, who served as speech writer and legal counsel during her presidency, recalled that among the first full state visits made “by the new president of the newly restored Philippine democracy” was to China, which “came out very well” and was deemed like a “visit to long-lost relatives.”
Aquino’s state visit to China happened in April 1988 during which she met with then Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping in Beijing and visited the Cojuangcos’ ancestral village Hongjian in Fujian province.
Locsin said China was among the first countries to recognize the newly restored democracy and its elected government.
“We are still grateful for that,” Locsin said.
“The feeling of warm friendship has not cooled, let alone been lost, not even in our differences. But under President Rodrigo Duterte, that old friendship has flowered into a new partnership for mutual profit and progress for China is no longer poor, far from it,” he added.
Locsin also credited China for lifting millions of its people from poverty.
“Whatever happens in the future, one achievement is undeniable and will always be to the new China’s unique credit: That in a time when many old, rich countries experienced the fall of their middle classes into poverty, China raised 800 million from poverty to the middle class by any scientific definition of the category,” he said.
Locsin opened his statement by greeting good evening in Chinese, “wan shang hao” and closed by conveying his greetings and best wishes to the peoples of the two countries.
“God bless the Chinese and God bless the Filipino peoples,” he said.
The Chinese Embassy, in a tweet, said the two nations' partnership would embrace "an ever better future" with the "concerted participation and support from both governments and peoples."
The Philippines and China remain locked in a maritime dispute. Just last April, the Philippines filed diplomatic protests against China over the pointing of a radar gun at a Philippine Navy ship in Philippine waters and declaring parts of Philippine territory as part of Hainan province, “violating international law and Philippine sovereignty.”
The Philippines also objected to China’s naming of some features in the in the Kalayaan Island Group, saying the Philippines does not recognize them.
The DFA invoked the 2016 arbitral win of the Philippines under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), saying it “has comprehensively addressed China’s excessive claims and illegal actions in the South China Sea.”