(This speech was delivered at the Chinese Embassy reception celebrating the Chinese New Year, Makati Shangri-La, January 23, 2017.)
Honorable Joseph Ejercito Estrada, Former President; Honorable Loren Legarda, Senator of the Philippines; Honorable Cynthia A. Villar, Senator of the Philippines; Honorable Manuel Antonio J. Teehankee, Undersecretary for Policy, DFA; Honorable Carlos Chan, Special Envoy for Chinese Affairs; Honorable Lucio Tan, Chairman Emeritus of Filipino Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc.; Honorable Angel Ngu, President of FFCCCII; Honorable Stephen Techico, President of the Federation of Filipino Chinese Associations of the Philippines; Excellencies and Distinguished Guests.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Since ancient times, the Spring Festival has been celebrated by the Chinese people every year as the most important tradition. For the Chinese diplomats living and working in Manila, this old tradition takes on new meaning. It’s more than a time simply for family reunion. It has become a festive occasion when we extend our heart-felt season’s greetings to our good friends in the Philippines represented by each and every one of you here today.
According to the Chinese zodiac, 2017 is a year of the rooster, which stands for diligence and perseverance, which are also fundamental characteristics of a successful person. Believe it or not, Dr. Jose Rizal, the Philippine national hero, was born in 1861, a year of the rooster, and so was H.E. President Duterte in 1945. In President Duterte, we all see a firm champion and wise builder who will carry forward the China-Philippines friendship and partnership. Therefore, you could see that a year of rooster shall always bring strength and fortune.
Ladies and Gentlemen.
Memorable should be the past 2016, it has witnessed a new chapter opened up in China-Philippines relationship. President Duterte was warmly welcomed by President Xi Jinping last October in Beijing on a historic and fruitful state visit. The two leaders have charted a course of amity and prosperity for our two countries, have reached consensus to benefit our two peoples and contributed to the peace and stability of our region. This visit also witnessed 13 MOUs of cooperation signed to advance our bilateral cooperation in various fields. Both sides are now working hand in hand to vigorously transform all the inked agreements into tangible benefits for our two peoples.
With the confidence we draw from the recent progress in our relationship, the goodwill and support that the relationship enjoys in both countries, and, above all, the imagination, inspiration and innovation of the talented and enterprising peoples of our two countries, we are sure to advance and deepen cooperation across a very wide field and turn great potentialities into abundant opportunities for the future.
The year 2017 should be promising and defining for China-Philippines relations. It marks the 600th anniversary of the first visit by Sultan of Sulu to China, once again standing proof to a long-cherished friendship. It celebrates the 50th founding anniversary of Asean, with the Philippines holding the rotating chairmanship, opening up brighter prospects for China to engage with our neighbors in more fruitful ways. It bodes well for China contributing to the regional development through advancing the One Belt and One Road initiative, always bearing the Philippines in mind as one of the most important hubs along the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. It also expects to reap early harvest in China-Philippine cooperation in terms of infrastructure development, connectivity and people-to-people exchanges. We will see more bridges and railways built, more ports upgraded, more flight routes opened, more overseas students exchanged, more Chinese tourists visiting the Philippine and the other way around.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Indeed, this relationship has been defined and nurtured by the vision and enterprise of the leaders and peoples of our two countries. This is how it should be between good neighbors. This is what has given this relationship the sense of excitement and energy that we see today. The relationship rests on the solid foundation of broad-based political support and public goodwill in both China and the Philippines, and therefore, will continue to progress in breadth and depth in the future.
As the Chinese New Year of the Rooster approaching, I am recalling a poetic line written by China’s late Chairman Mao Zedong, “The dawn glows as a rooster crows.” On this note, may this good year inject fresh vitality into China-Philippines relations and bring more power to the growing friendship and cooperation between our two peoples and our two countries.
To conclude, I would like to propose a toast:
To the health and happiness of H.E. President Rodrigo Duterte and H.E. President Xi Jinping,
To the prosperity and happiness of our two peoples,
To the friendship and cooperation between China and the Philippines,
To the health of all the guests,