President Rodrigo Roa Duterte is keen on discussing how to further advance bilateral relations with China as he noted the tangible benefits reaped through practical cooperation.
The President made these remarks on November 15, Wednesday, after the expanded bilateral meeting with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in Malacañan as part of the latter’s Official Visit.
“I am pleased to note the positive turnaround and vigorous momentum of Philippines-China relations. Mutual trust and confidence-building have led to increased interaction on many levels of our two governments,” President Duterte said in a Joint Statement at the President’s Hall.
“Practical cooperation in many areas is bringing in an early harvest of tangible benefits. Altogether, these concerted efforts of the Philippines and China have secured peace, stability, and development in the region,” he added.
President Duterte said he is very much eager to sit down and discuss with Premier Li on how to further advance Philippines-China relations through functional cooperation in key areas such as trade, agriculture, education, science and technology, and people-to-people exchanges.
“We will also discuss shared interests and mutual concerns on defense, security, maritime cooperation, law enforcement, transnational crime, as well as cooperation on how our two countries can confront the drug menace that haunts both shores,” he said.
According to the President, the Official Visit of the Chinese Premier allowed him to personally thank the Chinese government for its valuable support for the Philippines’ ASEAN chairmanship; the assistance to the country’s Build, Build, Build infrastructure initiatives; China’s looking out for the welfare of Filipinos who live and work in China; its benevolent assistance in providing military equipment to the Armed Forces of the Philippines; and its aid to the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Marawi City.
“With pragmatism, mutual respect, sincerity, equality, and shared benefit, the friendly relations between our two countries will forge ahead, determined to secure a prosperous future for both our peoples,” he said.
The President also noted that Premier Li’s visit is a momentous occasion for the Philippines as it marks the first visit of a Chinese Premier to Manila in 10 years, adding that it shows the great strides accomplished in the bilateral relations between China and the Philippines since he assumed office.
Improved relations already boosted trade, tourism
In response, Premier Li expressed hopes that the two countries will continue to work together to strengthen the positive momentum and work together to make up for the time that may have been lost.
During the expanded bilateral meeting, Li noted that China-Philippines cooperation is based on major support and on major benefit.
“We are now working together to strengthen the momentum of China-Philippines relations and try to make up for the time or the good opportunities we missed in the past,” he said.
“We are accelerating the implementation of the relevant cooperation projects and that is something that requires the joint efforts of both sides,” he added.
In his statement after the meeting, Li said China and the Philippines are developing countries and both governments face the daunting task of growing the economies and improving people’s lives.
“Since the beginning of this year, we have been heartened by the boom in the practical cooperation between our two countries,” he said, noting that after the first 10 months of this year, China has become the Philippines’ top trading partner.
China has imported some 13,000 batches of tropical fruits from the Philippines and 14 new flights have been opened between the two countries.
He added that they are expecting Chinese tourists to make some one million trips to the Philippines by the end of the year.
The Chinese Premier also noted the practical cooperation between the Philippines and China in areas of infrastructure, agriculture and poverty alleviation has been going strong as well.
“We commend the Philippine government for the introduction of its own development strategy that is AmBisyon Natin 2040. And we would be happy to enhance our cooperation with the Philippines in the infrastructure sector as well,” he said.
Li suggested that both sides sit down together to discuss and formulate cooperation plans that would last for the next five or even to 10 years to put forward cooperation in the specific fields which will tackle specific fields “to send out message to people of the two countries, as well as the international community, that China-Philippine relationship will continuously go forward and the people-to-people friendship between us will be further strengthened.”
Cooperation between the two countries regarding defense affairs and counter-terrorism was also discussed, Li said.
“The Chinese side supports the efforts made by Mr. President and the Philippine government in upholding the security and stability of your country,” he said.
According to Li, the Chinese government will provide 150 million RMB Yuan of grants for the rebuilding and improvement of livelihood in Marawi to demonstrate the support of the Chinese people.
He also expressed full confidence that under Duterte’s leadership, the rebuilding of Marawi will be completed in a very early date and the local people will embrace an even better life.
The President then hosted a banquet for the visiting Chinese Premier on Wednesday night.
The guests were served with crispy fish skin, sliced suckling pig, and scallop with mango salsa; hototay soup; Chinese style beef tenderloin with Baguio vegetables; coconut milk pudding with mango caviar, vanilla ice cream and frozen pomelo. ### (PND)