I was contemplating on writing about the possible repercussions of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan, which Mainland China views as a violation of the One-China Policy which I agree with. However, days before I took a break, a friend sent me a message asking me if I could possibly allot a bit of my column space for an article written by a Director of the Confucius Institute as Angeles Foundation, Professor Calvin Pamintuan.

While I acceded to my friend's request, I actually ran out of time as I had to take an unexpected break from my old paper. Anyway, here it is as I promised.

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"Huge development opportunities brought by deepened cooperation between the Philippines and China"

By Dr. Calvin F. Pamintuan

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For a long time, the Filipino people have regarded China as one of the most important partners and hope to strengthen friendly exchanges with the Chinese people. As a Chinese language educator in the Philippines, I have personally experienced the profound foundation of the friendship between the two countries and seen the huge development opportunities brought about by the deepening cooperation between the two countries.

I was born in an ordinary Filipino family and never had any exposure to the Chinese language before going to college. In 2010, the Confucius Institute at Angeles University Foundation was established, and since then, I have become attached to the Chinese language. I am fortunate to have received the Confucius Institute scholarship twice and was granted the opportunity to study at the International College of Chinese Studies of Fujian Normal University for a master's degree in Teaching Chinese to Speakers of Other Languages. After graduating from FNU-ICCS, I dedicated the early years of my teaching career to promoting the Chinese language and culture in the mainstream society of the Philippines.

Along the way, I have changed from a Chinese learner to a Chinese educator, from a listener of Chinese stories to a propagator of Chinese stories, and developed a deeper understanding of the friendly cooperation between the Philippines and China.

Over the past six years, the Philippines and China have adhered to good neighborliness and friendship, joined hands for common development, and established a comprehensive strategic cooperative relationship. The friendly cooperation between the Philippines and China has provided a strong impetus for the economic and social development of the Philippines. Under the joint guidance of the two countries' leaders, the Philippines and China have deepened the alignment of development strategies and carried out nearly 40 intergovernmental cooperation projects, which have brought tangible help to the economic development and improvement of people's livelihood in the Philippines. In six years, the trade volume between the Philippines and China doubled to $82.05 billion in 2021.

Chinese companies have actively helped the Philippines improve its infrastructure and created an encouraging number of jobs for the Philippines. When the Covid-19 epidemic seriously threatened the lives and health of the Filipino people, our Chinese friends provided a lot of Covid-19 vaccines and various anti-epidemic materials to the Philippines. Selfless sharing of anti-epidemic experiences has made us truly feel the profound meaning of helping each other and helping others in the same boat.

President Xi Jinping pointed out that facts have proved that China-Philippines friendship meets the shared expectations of the two peoples, and China-Philippines cooperation meets the common interests of the two peoples. Currently, Philippine-China cooperation has been continuously strengthened, which has brought significant opportunities for Chinese language education in the Philippines.

More than 10 years ago, only three schools in the Philippines offered Chinese courses. In recent years, we have assisted the Philippine Department of Education in opening Chinese courses in public secondary schools, and now it has covered 93 public secondary schools in the Philippines. The Confucius Institute at Angeles University Foundation has more than 10,000 registered students annually.

The Confucius Institute has also opened Chinese classes in the Philippine Presidential Communications Operations Office, House of Representatives and other government agencies. In addition, the close cooperation between the relevant departments of the two countries has resulted in the master's degree scholarship program for DepEd SPFL-Chinese Mandarin teachers and the Chinese textbook compilation project for SPFL-Chinese Mandarin. The "Chinese craze" in the Philippines has brought the people of the Philippines and China closer, and more and more Filipinos hope to embrace China, a close and trusted neighbor.

At present, the relationship between the Philippines and China is at a new starting point. Not long ago, President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. of the Philippines had a phone call with Chinese President Xi Jinping. The two countries' leaders emphasized the need to carry forward the friendship between the Philippines and China and continue to strengthen friendly cooperation between the two sides. The new Philippine government stated that it will pursue Philippine-China relations as a key direction of its foreign policy, and is willing to strengthen exchanges at all levels with China to deepen and intensify cooperation in various fields such as economy, trade, infrastructure, energy, culture and education. It is the right choice that conforms to the interests of the Filipino people and is conducive to the economic and social development of the Philippines and the improvement of their livelihood and well-being.

I sincerely wish that the flower of friendship between the Philippines and China will last forever in the hearts of the two peoples, and look forward to a brighter future for the relations between the two countries.