"I know you are all concerned about the situation in the South China Sea. I would like to say a few words. The South China Sea issue is not something we have today. It’s being part of the history. But over the four or five decades in the past, China is firm with adhering to the policy of peaceful settlement. And this policy will remain and will continue. Despite the differences we have, we are ready to discuss with claimant states over the differences we have. We always believe dialogue is much better than confrontation." - Amb. Zhao Jianhua take on the South China Sea issue during his speech for the 92nd Anniversary of People's Liberation Army.
Amb. ZHAO Jianhua’s Speech at the Reception
in Celebrating the 92nd Anniversary of PLA Founding
Please allow me to express our sincere welcome to all of you to join us in the celebration of the 92nd anniversary of the founding of the People’s Liberation Army.
Since its founding on August 1, 1927, the PLA has went through an extraordinary journey which lasted almost a century. It has been a journey of overcoming daunting challenges one after another, and a journey of serving the people with tremendous devotion and sacrifices. Under the strong leadership of the Communist Party of China, the PLA has made great contributions to the independence and liberation of the Chinese nation, and to defending China’s sovereignty, security and development interests, and to the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.
While performing its duty to safeguard China’s national security, the PLA has been relentlessly making efforts to safeguard regional and world peace and stability.
China is the largest troop contributor among the permanent members of the UN Security Council. So far China has participated in 24 UN peacekeeping missions and dispatched more than 39,000 peacekeepers. 18 Chinese men and women in uniform laid down their lives on the UN peacekeeping missions. China has established a peacekeeping standby force of 8,000 troops that is ready to be deployed.
The PLA Navy began escort missions in the Gulf of Aden and the waters off Somalia in December 2008. It has sent 32 batches of fleets, including more than 100 navy vessels and about 70 helicopters. Until now, it has escorted more than 6,600 vessels and rescued over 70 ships in danger. More than half of the escorted ships are foreign ships, including Filipino vessels and seamen.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The Chinese nation is a peace-loving nation. China will follow the path of peaceful development. This is a commitment to the people of China and to the world, and this has been written into the Constitution of China. It is also our firm conviction to continue the path of peaceful development. No matter how strong China may become, China will never seek hegemony or never establish spheres of influence. China will remain committed to serving as a force for peace, for stability and for prosperity in the world.
China adopts a military strategy of active defense which adheres to the principle of defense, self-defense and post-strike response. Meaning we will not take the first shot. China develops its military entirely for the purpose of self-defense which aims to defend the country, to provide the people with a peaceful environment, and to ensure that our people are free from the disasters and calamities of war and for the people to enjoy an even better life. China enhances national defense in order to meet the needs to defend our own security as well as contribute to the world peace and stability.
Ladies and gentlemen,
China and the Philippines are close neighbors and shares thousands of years of friendship and friendly exchanges. More than a thousand years ago, people-to-people exchanges and contacts between China and the Filipino people were very prosperous. This long-lasting friendship between our two peoples have laid a solid foundation to the ever growing friendship and cooperation between our two countries.
Since His Excellency President Duterte took office in 2016, under the strategic guidance of President Xi and President Duterte, China-Philippines relations have achieved positive turnaround, have consolidated the relationship and we have elevated our relationship into a relationship of strategic cooperation.
Military-to-military relationship since President Duterte took office has become a very important pillar of our bilateral relations. We have increased our contacts and exchanges. We have significantly enhanced our mutual understanding and mutual confidence.
The Chinese PLA is ready to deepen mutual understanding, mutual trust, and mutual confidence with their Filipino counterpart so that jointly we’ll promote further cooperation and friendship between our two nations, two countries and jointly we can ensure regional peace and stability.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I know you are all concerned about the situation in the South China Sea. I would like to say a few words. The South China Sea issue is not something we have today. It’s being part of the history. But over the four or five decades in the past, China is firm with adhering to the policy of peaceful settlement. And this policy will remain and will continue. Despite the differences we have, we are ready to discuss with claimant states over the differences we have. We always believe dialogue is much better than confrontation.
And we all know these are very sensitive issues. For China, for the Philippines and for other claimant countries, it’s not easy to settle. It cannot be settled overnight. So we should be patient. We should have confidence in our wisdom that sooner or later we can settle it peacefully. But pending the peaceful settlement in the future, we will need to put our differences in proper context. We cannot let the 1% differences to hijack the whole 99% of friendship and cooperation as hostage. This is what I call the realistic and pragmatic approach.
So it is with the concerted efforts of China, the Philippines and other countries in the region, The situation in the South China Sea has been stabilized in general, with growing momentum for cooperation and increasing positive development. We stay committed to the peace and stability in the South China Sea.
Some people always ask me how China become No. 2 in economic power in the world within nearly 40 years. There’s a list of reasons. But there is one very important reason for China’s rapid growth, the GDP per capita growing from less than 200 US dollars in 1978 to nearly 10,000 US dollars last year. We jumped to No. 2 economy in the world. One of the primary reasons is that we work with our neighboring countries to ensure relative peace and stability in the neighborhood as we believe without stability we can do nothing. And history has proven that stability is the prerequisite of economic and social development. And China here is a vivid and clear example.
China will continue to work with the Philippines and other states directly concerned to resolve the relevant disputes in the South China Sea through bilateral negotiation and consultation on the basis of respecting historical fact and in accordance with international law which also includes UNCLOS. China and the Philippines have established a bilateral consultation mechanism on the South China Sea which has played a very important role in managing differences, in promoting maritime cooperation and in safeguarding peace and stability in the South China Sea.
The Philippines is now the coordinator of China ASEAN relations. We have agreed with the Filipino side for all China and ASEAN countries to faithfully implement the Declaration of the Code of Conduct(DOC) in the South China Sea. We are working very hard together with other ASEAN countries to formulate the Code of Conduct (COC) and we have agreed to finalize this Code of Conduct as early as possible.The deadline we have set is within 3 years. We would like to finalize the COC while the Philippines is the country coordinator of China-ASEAN relations. And this is what President Duterte would like to see to happen.
People are concerned about the freedom of navigation and freedom of overflight. Among all the countries, China consented most because nearly 75% of goods export and import from China or to China is going through the South China Sea. Nearly 80% of oil and gas that China imports from other places in the world is going through South China Sea. It goes without saying if South China Sea’s freedom of navigation is disrupted or even blocked by someone. We don’t need too much imagination to conclude that China is going to be somewhat badly hit because oil and gas now are the life block for economic and social growth. So China is the last country who would like to see that freedom of navigation in the South China Sea is impeded or disrupted.
So we would like to work not only with the Philippines, with other ASEAN countries, but also with other powers outside this region, for it is in our common interest to make sure that South China Sea continue to enjoy relative peace and stability with freedom of navigation and overflight unchanged and uninterrupted, particularly for the commercial vessels and for the oil tankers.
Presidents Duterte once said during his visit to China, “China is a lasting and reliable friend of the Philippines.” China is more than willing to join hands with our Filipino friends to achieve common progress in the spirit of giving, so as to bring tangible benefits to our respective peoples, to promote peace and stability in our region.
With that I would like to propose a toast:
To the 92nd anniversary, to the ever-growing friendship of our two militaries and to a brighter future of China-Philippines relationship.
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