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Philippine President seeks greater co-op with China

By Ji Peijuan (People's Daily)

08:28, August 28, 2011

Philippine President Benigno Aquino III receives a joint interview with some Chinese media organizations at the Malacanan Palace in Manila. (People's Daily/Ji Peijuan)

On Aug 26, Philippine President Benigno Aquino III received a joint interview with some Chinese media organizations at the Malacanan Palace in Manila. President Aquino will pay his first-ever state visit toChina from Aug 30 to Sep 3.

Q: The upcoming state visit by Your Excellency to China will be the most important event in China-Philippines relations this year. This will also be the very first visit by Your Excellency to the Chinese mainland. What is the theme of the visit? What should China and the Philippines do together to make this visit a productive one?

A: When one visits another country and I’d like to thank the People’s Republic (of China) for actually being the first (country) to invite me. On the day of my inauguration there was a formal invitation already to go (to China). Unfortunately we have not been able to act upon it prior to this time.

We want to strengthen bilateral relations. We want to try and remove any situations that will induce a conflict between the two countries. We share quite a lot of things. I think for most Filipinos right now, it will very hard to find a Filipino who doesn’t like to (eat) Chinese food.

For historical purposes, there are paving stones which were used as ballast during ancient times. It’s called by its Spanish name piedro de china. And this is still being up to this time. And I’d like to look at that as a symbol of the strength of the relationships that are inherent within the countries that are very close neighbors.

So the end point is that when we look at China, it’s the fourth…third largest trading partner already, fourth in terms of our overseas development assistance. Mutually increasing trade redounds to an increase in living standards of both our peoples. That is one what I want to do everything possible to further increase that. I also believe that increasing prosperity for both our peoples leads to stable a relationship which is a goal that every country would want to achieve. Our goal should not be exclusive of anybody else’s goal. Hence fostering of closer, stronger cultural, economic, political ties, in a sense will redound to the benefits of both our peoples. So there is the theme: strengthen the ties, gain greater cooperation in so many fields. When I say so many fields, it’s not just limited to the economic side.

There is, as I understand, long standing offer for assistance to help us even with things like disasters mitigation. We are visited by 23 typhoons on average every year. There’s also assistance being extended for a renewable energy program. There is supposed to be a grant that will help us map wind patterns in the country to find ways to make wind power viable. But for all of these, I don’t know how mature already the negotiations are. Again we welcome all of this assistance which helps us grow. We have a source of trade, two way. We both have things to export to you and also a market for the Chinese products that increases and redounds to an improvement of the standards of living of both peoples.

QWe have learnt that during this visit, Your Excellency will attend three China-Philippines trade and economic cooperation forums respectively in Beijing, Shanghai and Xiamen. This is really a special arrangement for a state visit. We also know that there will be around 300 Philippine businessmen travelling together with you. How do Your Excellency view the current status of China-Philippines economic cooperation? How will the Philippines take this opportunity to further strengthen economic cooperation and trade with China in a spirit of securing mutual benefit?

A: When I was talking to Ambassador Liu before,he did mention that they are undertaking all the preparations. If we bring a 300-member delegation, we will be successful already because there are about 450 who want to join. It gets to be more and more difficult to accommodate everybody. Now, even before we leave, I was given an SMS message by one of my friends. He is a Protestant minister, he has a member of his flock who already indicated that they have 3 deals that, they believe, will be inked or concluded in this visit. So that is just a sample. And he is not even one of the biggest taipans in this country.

Practically, all of the major business groups in this country will be with us in the delegation. I really believe that there are comparative advantages towards both economies. Conclusion of trade agreements among private businesses is just a natural conclusion to the potentials that are already existing. So I’m hoping to proceed from strength to strength. This is just another step of further broadening of especially, the trade aspects within our countries.

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