MANILA – “As long as we treat each other with sincerity, follow the spirit of seeking common ground while shelving differences, there is no obstacle that we cannot surmount, nor dispute that we cannot resolve.”
Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua highlighted this during the 41st anniversary of the establishment of China-Philippines Diplomatic Relations and the 15th Filipino-Chinese Friendship Day.
Zhao said the Chinese government hoped that the incoming Duterte administration could work with them towards the same direction, deal with relevant issues, put differences under control, and bring the bilateral relations back to a sound and comprehensive development.
He said China recognized the significance of preserving regional peace and stability. “China has never lost sight of the larger picture and has been dealing with the South China Sea issue in a constructive and responsible way,” he emphasized, adding that the door for negotiation and consultation is always open.
The Chinese enjoy cited as an example, China and Vietnam being able to clarify the maritime boundary of Beibu Bay through negotiation and consultation.
“China is committed to peaceful development, and pursues a neighborhood diplomacy that treats neighbors as friends and partners,” he said.
Noting that the Philippines and China are close neighbors separated by sea, Zhao said it was natural for the two to develop amicable and cooperative relations.
Zhao said the friendship between China and the Philippines had started back in the ancient times.
He told a story about Zheng He, a Muslim diplomat and a fleet admiral during the early Ming Dynasty.
According to him, Zheng’s fleets have reached Mindanao, Brunei, Thailand, Southeast Asia, among others. Zheng had established a good relationship with the sultan of Sulu during his stopover in Mindanao.
The sultan led a delegation of around 300 people to visit China in 1417, and Zhao said they were well received by the Ming Emperor Yongle.
On his way back to the Philippines, the sultan got sick and died. He was buried in China’s Shandong Province. “His tomb is still well protected by the Chinese government and the local people,” Zhao said.
“These are vivid illustrations of the traditional friendship between Chinese and Filipinos,” he continued.