Beijing, China -- Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano reaffirmed Philippines’ support for China under the administration of President Rodrigo R. Duterte, citing a “golden era” of relationship between the two countries.
In an expanded bilateral meeting with Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Wednesday at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse, Cayetano said the Philippines and China are in the “golden era” of relations in pursuing advance cooperations, adding that both countries are ready for challenges resulting to positive ties.
“Our relationship which is in golden period and positive relations, are now ready to face challenges together. The Philippines and China are proceeding on the principles of mutual trust, respect and sovereign equality,” Cayetano said.
For his part, Wang vowed to “enhance maritime dialogue and pursue equal footed and friendly consultation, in a prudent and steady way in order to advance cooperation on offshore oil and gas exploration”.
Wang said since 2016, the high level exchanges and political mutual trust have resulted to a high volume of trades between the two countries.
“Last year, two way trade surpassed to USD50 billion. China is recently the largest trading partner of the Philippines and our investment (in the Philippines) has enjoyed a 67% growth for the year,” Wang added.
The bilateral trade reached USD51.2 billion last year, with a year-on-year increase of 8.5 percent.
In the tourism sector, Cayetano said China has become the Philippines’ second largest source of foreign visitors, with close to one million trips made last year.
“We likewise thank China for their contribution to the tourism industry with 1 million tourists visiting the Philippines in the last year. We also appreciate China’s assistance to our agriculture sector by increasing imports of Philippine tropical fruits and other agricultural products,” he said.
Cayetano also announced the attendance of Duterte to the upcoming BOAO Forum next month in Hainan Province, China.
“He (Duterte) will participate in this non-government, non-profit international organization which will bring together government, business and academic leaders in Asia and other continents to share opinions on pressing issues in the region and the world,” Cayetano said.
Cayetano has personally handed over the congratulatory letter of Duterte to Chinese President Xi Jin Ping, after the latter was re-elected as China’s president.
He said the Philippines is willing to work with China to advance cooperation including security and in-depth development of bilateral ties.
“I hand carried a letter from President Rodrigo Roa Duterte congratulating President Xi on his re-election and re-affirming that the Philippines and China should continue working together with all stakeholders in advancing security, stability and prosperity,” Cayetano said.
Cayetano also mentioned that China and the Philippines are continuously working on the maritime sphere despite their differences.
“While we have do have differences, we are also pursuing cooperation in the maritime sphere. Through positive developments and our continued unwavering commitment to the DOC we look forward to the start of substantive negotiations on the COC,” he added.
Cayetano, expressed high hopes on the results of the two countries’ discussions, saying he is looking forward to the continued development of Philippine-Chinese relations.
Cayetano was the first foreign chief to visit China after "two sessions" -- the annual meetings of the national legislature and the top political advisory body in China. (PNA)