Join Hands to Overcome Disruptions and Challenges in the Fast Changing World

Under the leadership of President Xi Jinping and President Duterte, China-Philippines relations have been moving along the upward trajectory and ushering in the New Golden Age. - Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian

Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian on July 27, attended the Webinar organized by Philippine Association for Chinese Studies and Center for Philippine Studies of Jinan University and delivered a keynote speech. Philippines Ambassador to China Jose Santiago “Chito” L. Sta. Romana also presented.

During his remarks, Ambassador Huang said under the leadership of President Xi Jinping and President Duterte, China-Philippines relations have been moving along the upward trajectory and ushering in the New Golden Age. Facing the common challenge of the COVID-19, both countries have spared no efforts to support and assist each other, nurturing a closer partnership in the new era. Last month, our two leaders spoke on the phone to celebrate the 45th anniversary of our diplomatic relations, providing renewed strategic guidance and political impetus to the growth of bilateral relations. 

Ambassador Huang said the COVID-19 pandemic has become a global crisis with far reaching impact. People’s health and lives are under grave threat and the global economy has plunged into a deep recession. Globalization and regional cooperation are facing grave challenges. On top of that, some superpower is wantonly bossing around to stir up rivalry and geopolitical tensions. In light of the pandemic and evolving regional situation, we have to address arising challenges to further grow China-Philippines relations. In the fast changing world, China and the Philippines are bound to navigate through all these disruptions and challenges with concerted efforts. We should earnestly pull together in the following key aspects:

Firstly, we should continuously deepen good neighborliness and friendship in spite of external disruptions. The important consensus reached between President Xi Jinping and President Duterte, such as setting aside maritime disputes, managing the situation through bilateral consultations and enhancing dialogue and cooperation, have to be vigorously implemented by both sides, so that the hard-won sound momentum of bilateral relations could be well preserved and enhanced. 

Secondly, we should continue to manage maritime disputes through friendly dialogue and consultations, including the Bilateral Consultation Mechanism (BCM) and advancing the consultation on the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC). As Hon. Secretary of Foreign Affairs Locsin said, the South China Sea issue is not the sum total of China-Philippines relations; it is just a little pebble on the avenue leading to our mutually beneficial economic progress, and we mustn’t stumble over the little pebble.

Thirdly, we should not allow external powers to roil the waters in the South China Sea, nor waver our commitment to pursuance of independent foreign policy and China-Philippines friendly relations. The Philippines’ future will not float in anywhere, but will be deeply rooted in its own national development, in a stable and amicable neighborhood, and in a peaceful and prosperous Asian region. 

Fourthly, we should explore new opportunities for common development under the new normal and in the post-pandemic era. China will continue to engage with the Philippines in joint COVID-19 prevention and control and exchange experience on resumption of work and production. We should step up efforts for the establishment of a “fast lane” for urgently needed personnel exchanges and “green corridor” for logistics, so as to ensure stable industrial and supply chains. China stands ready to continue to synergize the Belt and Road Initiative and Build, Build, Build program and accelerate the implementation of cooperation projects to stimulate economic recovery and growth of the Philippines. 

Ambassador Romana said the current pandemic has unfortunately affected the pace of our bilateral cooperation to a certain degree but is has also opened a new dimension in the relations between the Philippines and China. Our two countries helped each other in the early days of the pandemic and continue to do so today. This year is an important one in Philippines-China relations as we commemorate the 45th anniversary of diplomatic relations. The overall bilateral relationship is a positive one and there are many areas for cooperation and engagement that can be pursued. 

Ambassador Romana also mentioned that as in any relationship, however, there are a few differences. The South China Sea is one such issue. There are contentious issues between the Philippines and China with regard to this matter, but there is a clear understanding between the two sides that the disputes are not the sum total of the Philippines-China relationship and should in no way be a hindrance to the continuing development of other areas in the bilateral relations. More importantly, there are mechanisms in place for the two sides to openly discuss and manage the differences, and continue to find solutions, as well as the way forward on this issue. In spite of or maybe even because of the difficulties brought upon by COVID-19, our two countries will continue our constructive engagement as we strive to assist each other in order to ensure economic recovery and achieve our respective development goals, for the benefit of the Filipino and Chinese peoples.