Aquino: Mutual respect best for PH-China relations
The Philippines and China must mutually respect each other to ensure a “brighter” future in bilateral relations, President Benigno Aquino III said ahead of the ruling of the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration on the maritime row between the countries.
Aquino, in a speech Friday to the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. (FFCCCII) jointly marking the 118th Independence Day and the 15th Filipino-Chinese Friendship Day, said that “respect for each other” should be a cornerstone of the relationship going forward.
Aquino said both the Philippines and China “want to do what is best for our respective peoples.”
“For two peoples that have lived and worked near each other for centuries, our shared future can be even brighter so long as we continue to respect each other and the laws that bind us in the community of nations, and to do our part to ensure peace, stability and progress in our corner of the world,” the President said.
Aquino praised the FFCCCII, the biggest local organization of Filipino-Chinese businessmen, for its support of the Philippines in trade and investment, disaster response and social services.
He also cited the “important role” the organization has played in “fostering greater understanding and closer ties of friendship between the Philippines and China—whether in terms of cultural activities, trade and investment, or in the informal manner in which you have served as a channel of communications, given the disputes in the sea known by many names.”
Among those in attendance was Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua, who last year snubbed the FFCCCII gathering amid tensions in the South China Sea. On Friday, Zhao appeared to adopt a conciliatory town, saying Beijing “has always regarded the Philippines as a friend more than a foe and a partner.”
Zhao repeated the words “friendship” and “cooperation” in his brief remarks. He also expressed optimism on the future relations between the Philippines and China, noting that the two nations’ bilateral trade relations have grown “despite recent difficulties.”
“China attaches great importance to our relationship with the Philippines and has always regarded the Philippines as a friend rather than a foe,” Zhao said. “I firmly believe the future of China-Philippine relations will be brighter, the friendship between our peoples will be deeper, [and] the bilateral cooperation between our two countries will be more fruitful.”
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