President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday extended his warmest greetings to and best wishes for the Chinese people, as he expressed hope for a stronger bond between the Filipinos and the Chinese as the country joins in celebrating the Chinese New Year.
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“The fact that we are celebrating this event and embracing it as one of our own reflects the strong and inseparable bond that has been forged through centuries of friendly and beneficial relations between the Philippines and China,” President Duterte said in his statement.
The Chinese New Year is a special non-working day in the Philippines.
“The fact that Filipinos have embraced the Chinese New Year celebration as their own demonstrates the two countries strong and inseparable bond of friendship and beneficial relations,” he said.
The Chief Executive also expressed hope that Filipinos and Chinese people will open a new page of “shared history,” and bonds of friendship will grow strong through cooperation, investments, cultural exchanges, and people-to-people ties.
He also hoped the Filipino-Chinese community would continue to “engage in charitable acts” that uplift other people’s lives, especially those of the poor and marginalized.
“Together, these small acts of kindness shall create a ripple effect that will benefit not only those belonging to your community but also countless others, creating a much bigger wave of compassion that will eventually redound to the greater good of our country,” he said.
Earlier, Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said more Chinese investors and tourists were coming to the Philippines and more Philippine agricultural products were entering China because of the improved bilateral ties.
The relationship between the Philippines and China were strained after the administration of former President Benigno Aquino III challenged the legality of China’s maritime claims in the West Philippine Sea before an international court.
In 2016, a United Nations-backed arbitral tribunal voided China’s maritime claim and upheld the Philippines’ sovereign rights over its 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone.
China has refused to recognize the ruling, calling it “illegal” and “a mere piece of paper.”
Duterte has agreed to set aside the ruling to improve the Philippines’ relationship with China but clarified that the Philippines won’t abandon its maritime claims.