MANILA - Chinese leaders have sent letters of congratulations to their Philippine counterparts as the 2 countries marked their 46th year of diplomatic relations and as the Philippines is set to commemorate its Independence Day.
Chinese President Xi Jinping greeted the Filipino people and told President Rodrigo Duterte that he attaches “great significance to the development of China-Philippines relations."
The Chinese leader added that he is ready to work with Duterte in “guiding” the bilateral relations.
“I... stand ready to work with you in guiding our bilateral relations to move forward in a sustained and steady manner, so as to achieve greater win-win results and mutual benefits,” Xi said in his letter, expressing the hope that “the everlasting friendship between our two peoples grow from generation to generation.”
Xi also noted that the relations between the two countries “have maintained healthy and stable development” which have brought “tangible benefits” to both nations.
The Philippines and China, he said, helped each other to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic, which elevated the 2 nations' friendship.
“In recent years, with concerted efforts of both sides, China-Philippines relations have maintained healthy and stable development, Xi said.
“After the COVID-19 outbreak, the two sides have helped each other to jointly overcome the adversity, further elevating the friendship between the two peoples.”
In a separate letter, Chinese Foreign Minister and State Councilor Wang Yi told Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. said he is ready to “fully implement the important consensus” between Xi and Duterte to fight the pandemic.
This, according to the Chinese official, aimed to “constantly deepen cooperation, and effectively manage differences, so as to promote faster and better development of the China-Philippines Comprehensive Strategic Cooperative Relationship.”
“During the recent years, under the care and guidance of H.E. President Xi Jinping and H.E. President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, China-Philippines relations have sustained healthy and stable development,” Wang said.
The letters came on the heels of a series of diplomatic protests filed by the Philippines against China for the illegal presence of its vessels in the West Philippine Sea, the country's exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea.
The Permanent Court of Arbitration in 2016 invalidated China's overwhelming claims in the resource-rich waters, but the Asian country continued to disregard the ruling.
As of May 28 this year, the country has filed 99 protest notes against China, including the daily protests that the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) vowed to file every day as long as Chinese vessels remained in Julian Felipe Reef inside the West Philippine Sea.
In early May, China told Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. to “mind basic manners and act in ways that suit his status” following his expletive-laden tweet telling Beijing to get out of Philippine waters.
Locsin has since apologized to Wang over his tweet.
ASEAN foreign ministers and China agreed during a meeting on Monday to exercise restraint in the South China Sea and avoid actions that could escalate tensions.