MANILA - The Filipino and Chinese people have a lot of "proud names" to remember when it comes to their shared history, Chinese President Xi Jinping said Monday, ahead of his Manila visit.
One of these names, Xi said, is the Philippines' "national hero and founding father" Jose Rizal, whose roots came from the Jinjiang county in China's Fujian Province.
"The ancestors of José Rizal, national hero and founding father of the Philippines, came from Jinjiang of China’s Fujian Province," he said in a statement.
"The famed Chinese General Ye Fei, who fought for the founding of New China, was born in Quezon of the Philippines," the Chinese President added.
Xi also cited Chinese navigator Zheng He, who made visits to Manila, Visayas, and Sulu; and the "goodwill visit" made by the King of Sulu hundreds of years ago.
"China and the Philippines are neighbors facing each other across the sea. The exchange of ships and merchants between our two countries began more than a thousand years ago," he stressed.
Xi said he is "full of expectations" in his visit to the Philippines, which he describes as "a beautiful land, an ever-growing nation and home to an honest and friendly people."
The Chinese President said he is hoping to take the relationship between Beijing and Manila to a higher level "under new circumstances."
He believes the relationship between the two nations is seeing "a rainbow after the rain," especially after President Rodrigo Duterte took office in 2016.
Xi is scheduled to arrive in Manila on Tuesday for his 2-day state visit. It was Duterte himself who invited the Chinese President to visit him in the Philippines.