China is committed to settling international disputes through peaceful means and preserving regional security, Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Liu Jianchao said Monday, referring to the recent tension in the region after a Philippine law extends the archipelago's territorial claim over China's islands in the South China Sea.
Liu, addressing nearly 1,000 guests at the reception of his assumption of the top envoy post in Manila, called for parties concerned "to engage in cooperation rather than confrontation" in the South China Sea.
Earlier this month, Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed a bill that defines the Philippines' territorial waters, including the Huangyan and Nansha islands as Philippines' territorial waters.
China's Foreign Ministry expressed "strong opposition and solemn protest" about the legislation.
Last week, China's dispatch of a vessel for routine fishery administration mission to patrol waters of China's exclusive economic zones including the Nansha, Xisha and Zhongsha islands also sparked concern from the Philippine side.
Liu said China follows the path of peaceful development and will work hard with other countries to build a harmonious world of lasting peace and common prosperity.
He said the Chinese government sees the China-Philippines relationship from a long term and strategic perspective. "Our relationship is strong and we want to make it stronger," Liu added.
Ronald Allarey, Assistant Secretary of the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs, echoed Liu's remarks and said the Philippine government looks forward to working closely with Liu in pursuing stronger Philippines-China ties.
Speaking on behalf of Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo, Allarey said prospects remain bright for the future of the bilateral relations.
"Our leaders have reached consensus to further intensify and deepen our bilateral relations, and not let a single issue define our ties," he said, adding that China has become a major partner of the Philippines in terms of trade, tourism and development.
Liu, on the other hand, said China is willing to deepen cooperation with the Philippines in areas such as water projects, power supply, irrigation facilities, farming technology, transportation, communication and education.