Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte shakes hands with visiting Vice-Premier Wang Yang, in Davao City, the Philippines, on March 17, 2017.[Photo/Xinhua]
MANILA — A senior Chinese official said on March 18 that China and the Philippines enjoy broad prospects of pragmatic cooperation, urging the two countries to grasp the opportunity to deepen and enlarge bilateral cooperation.
“China and the Philippines are close in geography, blood relations and culture. The two countries’ economies are complementary and both are in the period of fast development,” Chinese Vice-Premier Wang Yang told a Sino-Philippine economic and trade forum in Manila.
Wang, who is on a four-day trip to the Philippines, urged businessmen from the two countries to grasp the opportunity of improved bilateral relations to push cooperation between the two sides to a larger, broader and deeper level so as to benefit the two peoples.
Wang said China and the Philippines have been enjoying a long history of friendly exchanges, and the visit by President Rodrigo Duterte to China last October has turned a new leaf in bilateral relations and pushed pragmatic bilateral cooperation to a new level.
Wang disclosed that bilateral trade between China and the Philippines, against the backdrop of declining global trade, increased by 3.4 percent last year over the year before, accounting for 15.4 percent of Philippines’s total foreign trade.
China has become Philippines’ second largest trading partner. Philippines’s exports of fruits to China, such as papaya, pineapple, banana and mango, have been growing rapidly, increasing 200 percent, 100 percent, 50 percent and 30 percent respectively since last October, statistics show.
Since 2016, investments by Chinese companies in the Philippines have increased 47 percent. And in recent months more and more Chinese companies are rushing into the Philippines, looking for investment opportunity in manufacturing, infrastructure, agriculture and e-commerce.
“The neighbors are getting closer and closer. There are 159 flights every week between the two countries and further increases are expected; And our two countries have also made sound progress in exchanges and cooperation of education, science and culture,” Wang told the forum.
Wang said products in the two countries have their own characteristics and there is a huge potential in bilateral trade growth. He promised that China will import more Philippines’ agriculture produce.
He said infrastructure is the top priority of the Philippine government and the priority area of cooperation, adding China is willing to take part in the construction and operation of roads, railways, airports, ports and bridges in the Philippines.
Wang noted that the Philippines has its advantages in labor force and natural resources, while China has capital and market advantages, so the two sides has a promising future in cooperation of manufacturing and investment. He said China is going to join hands with the Philippines to build industrial parks in the Philippines.
“We should also enlarge our cooperation in areas concerning people’s livelihood. China is ready to share with the Philippines modern agriculture knowledge and help the Philippines to improve the sustainable development of agriculture,” Wang told the forum.
Wang pointed out that peoples’ exchanges between the two countries have a longer history than government contacts and cover more areas than trade, calling both countries to deepen exchanges and cooperation in areas such as education, science, culture, among others, to consolidate the social basis of bilateral relations.
Wang said that China and the Philippines are neighbors that cannot be moved away. Although the two countries have experienced up and downs in bilateral relations, good-neighborly friendship and mutually beneficial cooperation is always the mainstream.
“History shows that to be good neighbors, good friends and good partners is the only right way to go. As long as we can steer bilateral relations toward the general direction of good neighborliness and friendship, bilateral relations can move along the right track,” Wang said.