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STATEMENT | Learn from History for a Win-win Future

By Hon. Zhao Xiuzhen,

Consul General of the People’s Republic of China in Davao.

On June 9, we will usher in the 49th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the Philippines and the 23rd “China-Philippines Friendship Day”. The diplomatic relations is only 49 years old, but the friendship between the peoples of the two countries has spanned over a thousand years. It is a good time for us to review the history of these friendly exchanges.

As early as the Sui and Tang Dynasties (581-907 AD), there’s already a sea route from China to the Sulu Archipelago and Mindanao. In the 15th century, the Ming Dynasty of China and the Sultanate of Sulu started substantive interactions. In 1417, three Sulu Sultans sailed for four months to Beijing, and met Emperor Yongle. To this day, their voyage and visit is still a good example of friendly exchanges between our two countries. In modern times, exchanges and cooperation between China and the Philippines have become more comprehensive and in-depth. China has been the Philippines’ largest trading partner for eight consecutive years, and one of the largest sources of investment in the Philippines. Cooperation in the fields of culture, education, and people-to-people exchanges has effectively promoted the mutual understanding and affection between the two peoples. Exchanges and cooperation in Mindanao have also deepened. The agricultural cooperation between the two sides has made progress, with more and more types of agricultural products exported from Mindanao to China, especially durian, which won the heart of Chinese people. A series of infrastructure projects are on track. LGUs from Mindanao and different parts of China have established new sister city relations, and continuously expanded cultural exchange.

The Chinese Civilization has a philosophy of life that revolves around integrity, good neighborliness and friendliness. Throughout the thousand-year history, China has brought to the Philippines nothing but peace and friendship. President Xi Jinping once pointed out, peace is like air and sunshine, from which we benefit without noticing, but without which we can’t survive. Peace is the premise of all bright futures and the foundation of common security of all countries. But peace is by no means automatically permanent. It takes a lot of care and maintenance. When there’s differences between countries, we should abandon zero-sum thinking, thwart interference from outside the region, enhance understanding and mutual trust on the basis of equality and mutual respect, insist on handling differences in a peaceful way, and resolve disputes through dialogue and consultation.

China and the Philippines are both developing countries. Development is a common task for both. Friendship and cooperation is not only the common aspiration of the two peoples, but also in line with the fundamental interests of both countries, and even the common wish of the people in Southeast Asia. The purpose of looking back into history is to learn from history. Only by identifying the historical orientation and seeing the general trend, can we move in the right direction and win the future. On the occasion of China-Philippines Friendship Day, let us pledge to make concerted efforts in finding a path of mutual benefit, and win-win cooperation.


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