MANILA - China is committed to maintaining peace and stability with the Philippines, saying the South China Sea is not the sum total of Philippine-China relations.
During the reception marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua said China wants to work with the Philippines in existing mechanisms such as the bilateral consultation mechanism and joint coast guard committee in dealing with maritime issues.
Zhao said much of Chinese trade passes through the South China Sea and it has a greater stake in maintaining peace, freedom of navigation and overflight than any other country.
He also said China likes to promote progress in the joint exploration of oil and gas with the Philippines and see the conclusion of the South China Sea code of conduct within 3 years.
Zhao, likewise, said China and the Philippines are good neighbors, sincere friends and trusted partners and that under Presidents Xi Jinping and Rodrigo Duterte, Philippine-China relations have moved forward steadily and have delivered tangible outcomes. He said China is committed to sharing development with the Philippines.
He said China is now the largest export market of Philippine bananas, bringing income of US$345 million to Philippine banana growers. He added that Chinese grants to the Philippines have no strings attached.
In his speech, Zhao gave a walk through of China’s achievement in the past 70 years, adding that China aims to lift everyone in its population out of poverty by 2020.
In offering a toast, Foreign Affairs Acting Secretary Eduardo Malaya said China’s socio-economic progress is “a marvel to behold,” and a lesson and inspiration to other countries.
Malaya said the rapport and goodwill between presidents Duterte and Xi have served to further deepen Philippine China ties which he said continue to grow from strength to strength.
He pointed out that China has become the Philippines’ top trading partner, the fourth largest foreign market for Philippine products and top source of Philippine imports with over 1.2 million Chinese tourists visiting the Philippines
Malaya said “constructive dialogue and frank discussions” must continue and that despite challenges, “in good faith, mutual respect and cooperation between two friends, no obstacle is insurmountable.”
“Let us continue steadfast on constructive dialogue and frank discussions; We might on occasion encounter challenges but... in good faith, mutual respect and cooperation between two friends, no obstacle is insurmountable," Malaya said.
Among the personalities who attended the event were former senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar, Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo, businessmen Lucio Tan, Tony Tan Caktiong, George Yang, and Federation Of Filipino Chinese Chambers Of Commerce & Industry President Henry Lim Bon Liong, among others.