Ambassador Liu Jianchao Delivered a Speech at Rotary Club of Manila
2009/05/28
 

At the invitation of the Rotary Club of Manila (RCM), Ambassador Liu Jianchao delivered a speech on China-Philippine relations at the RCM’s regular membership meeting on 28 May 2009.

Ambassador Liu briefed the club on the history of China-Philippine relations, expressed China’s willingness to further explore cooperation with the Philippines in even broader areas such as trade, investment, energy and tourism, and to work collaboratively to conquer the current crisis and achieve win-win outcome. Ambassador Liu pledged to exert his best efforts to bridge differences, build upon consensus, and contribute to the prosperity and stability of the two countries.

There was active interaction in the Q & A session after the speech. Ambassador Liu responded to a wide range of questions including Korean Peninsular nuclear issue, South China Sea, China’s foreign reserve, China-Philippine agricultural cooperation, etc.

This speech is arranged by RCM in celebration for the 8th Chinese-Filipino Friendship Day.

The full text of the speech is as follows:

 

Speech by Ambassador Liu Jianchao at

The Luncheon Hosted by the Manila Rotary Club

28 May 2009

President Romeo B. Batino,

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen,

Good afternoon!

My thanks shall first go to President Batino for your invitation. I also want to thank my dear friends of the Rotary Club of Manila for this wonderful welcome. And thank you, Mr. Manny Dy for your kind words about me.

If I were the ambassador to the Philippines 34 years ago in 1975, I could not have come and join you. I have an English-Chinese dictionary in my office, which was published in China in 1975. It described the Rotary International as a capitalist international group. But the later editions of the same dictionary define it as a non-governmental, service providing mass organization composed of business people and free lance. So today you are the people rather the capitalists. What a change! You have not changed, but China has.

Boasting the longest history in Asia, the Rotary Club of Manila has been working hard through concrete actions to tell people in Asia what peace, friendship, goodwill, understanding and respect really mean. These fine words also describe exactly the best of the relationship between China and the Philippines. With the 8th Chinese-Filipino Friendship Day just around the corner, it makes me feel more pleased and obliged to speak here, to honor our past and to reach for a better future.

Since several of my predecessors have taken the same podium before, I bet many of you must have been well-versed in China-Philippine relationship. Therefore, I don’t want to redraw this already splendid painting, but I am still reluctant to skip some shining colors when appreciating it again. Confucius, a great philosopher in ancient China, said: “If you would define the future, study the past.”

Ladies and Gentlemen,

China and the Philippines are natural friends and our peoples and cultures are intertwined by blood and history. The affinity between our two peoples dates back to a time long before Ferdinand Magellan first set foot on the Philippine shores in March 1952. With diligence, patience and resilience, the Chinese immigrants have been developing close ties with host countrymen through business operations and great contributions over hundreds of years. Their industry and sincerity have earned them merits they well deserve and enabled them to be accepted as a respected community in the Philippines. Intermarriages have become so common that many people told me, with a tint of exaggeration, that each Filipino has at least 10% of Chinese blood. And I believe that is almost true.

China and the Philippines both have a history to be proud of. In about 2 weeks time you will be celebrating your 111th Independence Day, and in 5 months China will do the same for the 60th birthday of the People’s Republic. In 1898, independence was first declared in the Philippine’s history. Sadly, it turned out to be a flash in the pan. Enemy at the gate pounced and another wave of colonial rule overwhelmed. Also in around 1898, more unequal treaties were forced on the Chinese by western powers. China slid deeper into the abyss of semi-colonial and semi-feudal nightmare. Several generations of our forefathers were sacrificing their lives for liberty and freedom. However, our two great peoples did not fall back, they forged ahead. They fought with courage and resolve, always yearning for freedom and democracy. Their determination was once dismissed as empty rhetoric because people then never believed a nation dedicated to liberty could survive a world of colonialism. Today, we know history had other plans. After many years of struggle and sacrifice, China and the Philippines won real independence.

In 1940s, the Asia-Pacific was haunted by WWII. The whole world seemed to be at the mercy of brutal dictatorship and savage tyranny on a scale never seen before. Both China and the Philippines once again answered calls on duty to defend their own home fronts. Under the threat of violence and atrocities, they chose not to back down and convinced themselves that they were acting nobly in the interest of world peace. China and the Philippines became quagmires for aggressors, destined to swallow failures. More than 1.5 million soldiers in both countries lost their lives for that great cause. The history remembered China and the Philippines as contributors to an international victory over Fascism and protectors of human dignity.

Winston Churchill’s speech of “iron curtain” in 1946 has been widely regarded as the origin of Cold War, which separated our two countries for quite a long time. The strip of water between us also seemed to have steeled into an invisible wall cutting off all channels of exchange. When countries and peoples allow themselves to be defined by differences, the gulf between them widens. When we fail to pursue peace, the gulf stays forever beyond our grasp. In 1975, our leaders translated their vision and wisdom into 34-year-old friendship between our two great countries.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today our generation has a choice to make. As the world has become less divided, it has become more interconnected. And we’ve seen events move faster than our ability to control: a global economy in crisis, a changing climate, pirate-infested waters and epidemic outbreak.

None of these challenges can be solved quickly or easily. But all of them demand that we listen to one another and work together; that we focus on our common interests, not on occasional differences; and that we reaffirm our shared values, which are stronger than any force that could drive us apart. That is the work that we must carry on, to further strengthen and mature the cooperative and strategic relationship between China and the Philippines in an all-round manner.

A true friend should be known in the time of need. China’s frigate spared no effort in assisting and escorting the Philippine tanker which was released by the Somali pirates and heading home. I still recall the photos on newspaper showing MT Stolt Strength seamen hugging their loved ones at the airport, joyful tears on each other’s shoulders. Last night in the City of Qingdao, Chinese naval officers visited a Philippine ship that called at the port and celebrated the Chinese dragon boat festival with the Philippines seamen. As the American writer James Cooper put it, “Friendship that flows from the heart cannot be frozen by adversity, as the water that flows from the spring cannot congeal in winter.”

We have a very good foundation for an even stronger and closer bilateral relationship. Consensus has been reached on a joint plan of action to carry on our strategic cooperation. An early signing would surely bring our tie to a new high. We are going to have more high-level visits and people-to-people exchanges for better understanding between the two countries and peoples.

Starting from 1990s, trade figures between our two countries have been growing by each passing day. From 2002-2007, bilateral trade volume maintained a high annual growth rate of more than 30%. In 2007, bilateral trade volume topped US$30.62 billion. Till December 2008, China’s investment to the Philippines has reached US$61.22 million. Furthermore, we have provided four preferential buyer’s credits worth a total of US$1.8 billion to the Philippine Government to help with economy and infrastructure development. NEDA Director-General Rector told me that China is now the third largest ODA provider to the Philippines.

Moreover, China has taken concrete actions under the framework of China-ASEAN cooperation. They might have been well known to all. Just to name a few: China has set aside 300,000 tons of rice as special reserves for the Project on East Asia Emergency Rice Reserve to bolster regional food security; China is setting up a China-ASEAN Investment Cooperation Fund and will put in US$10 billion; China will provide the ASEAN countries with loans of US$15 billion, US$1.7 billion concessional loans included. I am sure that the Philippines can benefit a lot from these arrangements.

Starting from 1 January 2010, the China-ASEAN free trade zone would be fully established. The consumers both in China and the Philippines will have a wide-ranging choice of more than 7000 items of zero-tariff goods.

Earlier this year, State Grid Corporation of China was granted 25 years franchise of National Grid of the Philippines. The project represents the largest of that kind ever invested by China in the Philippines. Your country is also endowed with enormous potential of geo-thermo exploitation. Sprawling would be the possibilities for both countries to jointly develop other clean and renewable resources such as wind and solar power. China will also boost cooperation with the Philippines in even broader areas of water project, power supply, irrigation facilities, farming technology, transportation, communication and education. Just a few days ago, a Chinese company signed a contract with the National Irrigation Authority on the Agno Integrated Irrigation Project worth of US$90,000,000. This project will nurture 35,000 hectares of farmland and benefit 28,000 farmers.

People-to-people contact and tourism constitute another area with great potentials which we should tap. Last year saw only 160,000 Chinese tourists visit the Philippines. Even so, it was still a historical peak. More work can and must be done about this. Carlos Chan, a very well-respected business man, is doing a good job by presenting the beauty of the Philippines when promoting his Oishi chocolate cakes in China.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

A wise man once said, “Coming together is the beginning, keeping together is progress, and working together is success”.

The China-Philippine relationship will really be what we make of it. And here in Manila, let us honor our past by reaching for a better future. Let us bridge our differences, build upon our consensus, and accept our common responsibility to leave our two great countries and peoples more prosperous and more peaceful than we found it. Impossible is nothing, and together, we can do it.

Thank you.

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