China Ambassador Huang Xilian, Senator Imee Marcos, Senator Cynthia Villar, Dept. of Public Works & Highways (DPWH) Secretary Roger Mercado, Climate Change Commission Vice-Chairperson Sec. Robert Borje and Federation of Filipino Chinese Chambers of Commerce & Industry, Inc. (FFCCCII) President Dr. Henry Lim Bon Liong led the April 20 ribbon-cutting ceremony of the Philippines China Cooperation Achievements Photo Exhibit at the FFCCCII Bldg. in Muelle de Binondo Street, Binondo, Manila. They all delivered speeches extolling the diplomatic, trade, infrastructure, agriculture, anti-pandemic vaccine and other cooperation between the Philippines and China.
FFCCCII is the umbrella federation of over 170 Filipino Chinese chambers of commerce and diverse trade organizations nationwide from Aparri to Tawi Tawi, which focuses on progressive economic and socio-civic advocacies. One of FFCCCII’s advocacies is promoting Filipino-made exports to all countries of the world with its “Buy Pinoy” project. Dr. Lim said the Philippines should leverage our good diplomatic ties with Beijing in order to aggressively compete with our Asean and Asian neighbors like Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia or South Korea, etc. in tapping the world’s biggest and increasingly affluent consumer market of 1.4 billion people of China by exporting more Filipino-made goods and agriculture products. He also urged the Philippines to attract more foreign direct investments (FDIs) and technology cooperation, woo more tourists, etc. from China. Lim’s hybrid rice technology helping rural Filipino rice farmers is an example of successful win-win Philippines-China technological cooperation. Dr. Lim also supported the call of Trade Secretary Ramon “Mon” Lopez for the Philippine Senate to expeditiously ratify the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which is the world’s largest free trade agreement encompassing all 10 ASEAN countries, China, South Korea, Japan, New Zealand and Australia. Lim agrees with Lopez that RCEP shall benefit Philippine businesses, most especially the small and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs) which can export more products and services to China. Dr. Lim said ratification of RCEP will not only benefit our Filipino SMEs, but can make the Philippines more attractive for foreign investors hoping to do business and establish factories here.
Both Sen. Imee Marcos and Sen. Cynthia Villar support the Philippines’ independent foreign policy of being friend to all the world’s big powers, especially expanding and strengthening mutually beneficial economic opportunities like Philippine exports, increased investments, technological cooperation, etc. The parents of Sen. Imee Marcos pioneered normalization of Philippine-China diplomatic relations on June 9, 1975, while Sen. Cynthia Villar’s son former DPWH Sec. Mark Villar had led successful implementation of various Philippine-China infrastructure projects like the newly-opened, China-gifted Binondo-Intramuros Bridge in Manila City and the 2021 inaugurated, China-gifted Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge in Makati City, and other new infrastructure projects.
In his speech, Ambassador Huang said: “We have strengthened and delivered on the synergy between the Belt and Road Initiative and the Build, Build, Build Program over the past six years. Nearly 40 government-to-government cooperation projects have been on the agenda. 16 of those have been completed while the rest are under implementation or to be mapped out. The landmark China-gifted Binondo-Intramuros Bridge, benefitting tens of thousands of people every day, has already become a tourist attraction. During the past six years, our trade volume has doubled. Furthermore, the total accumulated Chinese investments in the last six years have quadrupled by comparison to the 2010-2015 figure. This significant growth is contributing to the economic growth and national development of the Philippines, bringing profits to our two peoples. During the pandemic, we embodied the spirit of Bayanihan by fighting the COVID-19 virus hand in hand, and forging a closer partnership in the new era.”
Ambassador Huang also said: “We have persistently handled the differences in a proper manner. Over the past six years, we have implemented the consensus reached by our leaders to position the South China Sea issue in a proper place in bilateral relations. We have been committed to managing our disputes through bilateral communication and consultation, increasing mutual trust, and advancing cooperation in a constructive manner. We have handled a series of maritime-related incidents prudently and conducted consulations on the joint development of oil and gas resources in the South China Sea. All of these have also contributed to a peaceful and stable regional environment. Dialogues and consultations are the only way to deal with our differences. Widening differences or bringing in a trouble-maker is definitely not the right way.”
In promoting better friendship and people-to-people understanding between two countries, Ambassador Huang said the Chinese Embassy has initiated the Manila Forum for Philippines-China Relations, the Award for Promoting Philippines-China Understanding (APPCU), the Sino-Philippine Cultural Exchange Program, livelihood projects, aid for typhoon victims and others.
The event moderator and FFCCCII Public Information Committee chairman Wilson Lee Flores had earlier in his introduction described Ambassador Huang as “hardworking, humble, friendly, philanthropic and pro-active, also perhaps the most popular foreign diplomat on Facebook in the Philippines”. In his speech, Ambassador Huang said: “I launched my personal Facebook platform in 2020 to directly interact with the Filipino people, with now over 60,000 followers. I often read through thousands of inspiring and thought-provoking comments, and constantly feel the enthusiasm and expectation of Filipino friends on our bilateral relations.”