2012 and 2013 declared as Friendship Years for Philippines and China

February 17, 2012   China.org.cn Edited by He Shan

The Philippines and China have agreed to assign 2012 and 2013 as the Philippines-China Years of Friendly Exchanges, with an aim to strengthen their cooperation for peace and development.

The arrangement was written in a joint statement by the two governments, following President Benigno Aquino III’s meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao and two other Chinese leaders.

“Both sides agreed that this visit is a milestone in the development of Philippines–China bilateral relations,” the joint statement read.

It said the two leaders shared a positive assessment of the development of Philippine-China relations over the past 36 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1975.

“They reiterated their commitment to jointly pursue a long-term and stable relationship of strategic cooperation on the basis of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit…. The Philippines reaffirmed its adherence to the one-China policy,” the statement said.

It added that the two leaders also agreed that the Joint Action Plan for Strategic Cooperation signed by the two countries on Oct. 29, 2009, would continue to guide cooperation in all fields.

The positive results of Mr. Aquino’s meetings with Hu, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Wu Bangguo, chair of the standing committee of the National People’s Congress, came in the wake of a dispute over the Spratlys in the West Philippines Sea (South China Sea).

The Philippines, China and four other countries claim in whole or in part the Spratlys, a group of islands believed to contain oil and gas deposits.

The Philippines accused China early this year of harassing its oil survey ship in the area. On the other hand, China claimed that recent construction work on an island occupied by the Philippines violated the spirit of a preliminary agreement with other Southeast Asian nations.

“Both leaders exchanged views on the maritime disputes and agreed not to let the maritime disputes affect the broader picture of friendship and cooperation between the two countries,” the statement read.