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Going hand in hand on the journey towards a brighter future for China and the Philippines

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Huang Xilian, China’s Ambassador to the Philippines

This year marks the 71st anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. For the past 71 years, China has grown into the world’s second-largest economy — a manufacturing giant equipped with a complete range of industries and a major country with a permanent seat at the UN Security Council. In the face of the COVID-19, China has fought a fierce war against the pandemic and effectively curbed the spread of the virus, creating a remarkable feat in humankind’s struggle against diseases. China is slated to complete the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects this year and will eliminate absolute poverty for the first time in its history.

China owes its development achievements, first and foremost, to the strong leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC), and to Chinese people’s hard work and wisdom. It has also benefited from mutual respect and win-win cooperation with the rest of the world. Therefore, China will always be a builder of world peace, contributor to global development, and defender of the international order while focusing on its own development.

China has stayed committed to peaceful development, contributing positive energy towards world peace. Peace, harmony and wishing your neighbors and loved ones well have long been deeply rooted in the mindset of Chinese. China’s commitment to peaceful development has been ingrained into China’s and CPC’s Constitution. China has respected the right of other people to choose their own development path and upheld the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence. Over the past seven decades, China has neither provoked a war or conflict nor occupied an inch of others’ land. China has made significant contributions to the settlement of major international and regional hot spot issues, and world security and stability. Today, China is the second-largest contributor to the UN regular budget and the peacekeeping budget and has sent nearly 40,000 peacekeepers to UN missions, over 10 of whom lost their lives when serving their duty to safeguard world peace.

China has stayed committed to win-win cooperation, bringing driving force to world development. In the past four decades, since reform and opening up, more than 800 million Chinese people were lifted out of poverty, contributing over 70% to global poverty reduction. China has provided approximately RMB400 billion in aid to other countries and international organizations, and dispatched over 600,000 people to support other developing countries to implement the Millennium Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. China has always been sharing development opportunities with all other countries and fostering a better balance between the North and the South. Contributing over 30% to global growth for the past 10-plus years, China has been the top trading partner for more than 130 countries and regions. Under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative, China has signed cooperation documents with 138 countries. The trade-in goods with partner countries have exceeded $7.8 trillion and direct investment surpassed $110 billion.

China has stayed committed to fairness and justice, providing stability for an international order. As a Chinese saying goes, “The noblest ideal is to create a world truly shared by all.” China has resolutely upheld the international system centered around the UN and the international order based on international law. China has joined almost all the universal inter-governmental organizations and acceded to more than 500 international conventions. Facing the undertows of unilateralism and protectionism, China has firmly pursued the multilateral trading regime with concrete actions to make economic globalization more inclusive and beneficial for all. China has also been actively sharing its vision and approaches with the world by putting forward the vision of creating a new type of international relations and community of shared future for mankind and advocating to build an open, inclusive, clean and beautiful world that enjoys lasting peace, universal security, and common prosperity.

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In a world of increasing interconnection and interdependence, China has always been welcoming the Philippines and other countries to get on board the express train of its development to realize common development and prosperity. China is now the Philippines’ top trading partner, the largest source of imports, and the third-largest export market. In 2019, our bilateral trade volume reached $60.95 billion, with a 9.5% year-on-year increase. More and more Philippine tropical fruits have been on the dining tables of Chinese people. In 2019, China imported $600 million worth of bananas from the Philippines, bringing tangible benefits for the Filipinos.

China and the Philippines are not only natural partners benefiting each other in economic development, but also close friends helping each other through difficulties. In the face of the common challenge of the COVID-19, our two governments and two peoples have stood together and helped each other overcome trying times. The Philippines provided valuable support and assistance to China at the height of its battle with the virus, which we will always be grateful for and hold dear to our hearts. In light of the pandemic situation in the Philippines, we feel keenly for the Philippine people amid the trying times. China has extended every help and support to the Philippines to the best of its ability, promptly providing well-needed medical supplies, dispatching an anti-pandemic medical expert team, sharing anti-pandemic experience and technologies without any reservation. The Goodwill Flight transporting medical supplies urgently needed by the Philippines secured the life channel by air between our two countries. The Friendship Bags containing food and daily necessities to Filipino families in need across the country conveyed the profound friendship that we shared. All these efforts have written splendid chapters in the history of China-Philippines relations and demonstrated a closer partnership in the new era.

The profound China-Philippines relations could not be achieved and maintained without President Xi Jinping and President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s strategic guidance and their commitment and hard work. These hard-won achievements deserve to be cherished. In the context of our thousand-year friendly interactions, our differences on the South China Sea issue are just brief interludes and a small part of our relationship, while our cooperation is the only main theme. Allowing such disagreements to hijack the overall relations between our countries is nothing but inadvisable. Given the shifting geopolitical landscape and the escalating pandemic, our two countries should focus on combating the pandemic, promoting economic recovery, and safeguarding the peace and stability in the region to meet both of our fundamental interests.

Our two countries should firmly deepen our partnership for the fight against the pandemic. The key to COVID-19 response at the current stage is the development, production and distribution of vaccines. China will consider giving priority to the needs of the Philippines once China successfully develops the vaccine. China is also discussing with the Philippines to establish a “fast lane” for the movement of people and a “green corridor” for the flow of goods between our two countries to contribute to the resumption of work and production as well as the stable functioning of industrial and supply chains.

Our two countries should firmly deepen our partnership for development. China will work with the Philippines to enhance the synergy of the Belt and Road Initiative and the Build, Build, Build Program, and strengthen practical cooperation across the board to benefit our peoples. China would also like to further tap into its mega-sized domestic market and demand and share more of its development dividends with the Philippines to accelerate the Philippines’ economic recovery in the post-COVID-19 era.

Our two countries should firmly deepen our partnership for peace. As the old saying goes, “A neighbor near is better than a relative far away.” China and the Philippines are close neighbors that could not move away from each other. As countries in the region, we benefit the most from regional peace and stability. The troubled South China Sea only serves the geo-political interests of non-regional country while countries in the region have to bear the costs. We should learn the lessons from the unrest in West Asia and North Africa caused by external interference and prevent our region from being trapped in the same situation. China is ready to work with the Philippines to safeguard regional peace and stability to secure a sound external environment conducive to our two countries’ development.

At a time of major changes rarely seen in a century, we are at a crossroads and our choices define our future. We should make concerted efforts to stand on the right side of history. China is committed to the path of peaceful development and will make every effort to meet its people’s aspiration for a better life through safeguarding their right to development. China will also contribute to world peace and development through its own development, and work with the Philippines and other countries to jointly address common challenges and build a community of shared future for mankind.

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