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China assured its full support to the Philippines in times of difficulties and challenges as the top foreign officials of the two countries held talks on many areas of cooperation that would bolster further the renewed China-Philippines relations under President Rodrigo Duterte’s leadership.

”I want to tell the people of the Philippines that whenever difficulties and challenges, China will always stand by your side,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in a joint press conference after meeting with Philippine Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs headquarters.

In response, Cayetano expressed deep appreciation to Wang “for the kind of words and assurance that China will always be there for the Philippines in times of need.”

Last Tuesday, the Chinese government donated PHP15 million for the people affected by conflict between the government forces and Islamist militants in Marawi City.

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Wang said the PHP15 million was the first batch of emergency assistance as China vowed to help in the reconstruction of Marawi City.

”Fight against terrorism is a shared responsibility of all countries. China has participated actively in combating terrorism. The Philippines as close neighbor is facing severe challenges caused by terrorism and of course China will not hesitate in extending its helping hands to close neighbor,” Wang said.

Wang believed that under the strong leadership of President Duterte, the Philippines will overcome all difficulties and challenges including terrorism.

”China and the Philippines have been always close neighbors, helping each other in times of needs and we are good friends and partners,” Wang said.

During the joint press conference, Cayetano conveyed President Duterte’s gratitude for warm and excellent reception extended by the Chinese people to him during his two previous visits to China.

Upon invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping, President Duterte visited Beijing in October last year which resulted in USD24 million worth of investment pledges and infrastructure projects.

President Duterte returned in Beijing in May last year to attend the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation which, Cayetano said, was the Philippines’ show of support to China’s ambitious economic integration that connects Asia to Europe and Africa.

Cayetano described the Belt and Road Initiative as “great idea” which needs to be supported not only by the Philippines but all Asia countries “because we want this idea to become a reality.”

”China’s Belt and Road Initiative is the best idea. We want not only to be participant but to be part of its great success,” he said.

During the meeting attended also by Philippine Ambassador to China Jose Santiago Sta. Romana and other Philippine foreign officials, Cayetano and Wang agreed to pursue the areas of cooperation that Presidents Duterte and Xi had achieved in their previous bilateral meetings.

”There are many things to be done in many areas where Philippines and China could complement each other and collaborate especially in areas of trade and investment, tourism, infrastructure, cooperation, people-to-people exchanges, science and technology and arts and cultures, among others,” the Filipino official said.

”The Filipino people are very spiritual people. We are very prayerful people. We are praying for peace, stability, development and good relations with all nations of the world. But as we pray, we have to put action to our faith or faith in our action. With the help of the almighty and our brotherhood with China and other allies, we can reach peace and stability and development,” he noted.

Wang said China and the Philippines will continue to hold bilateral and friendly dialogues to settle the South China Sea maritime issue.

”We agreed to continue to dialogue to further enhance cooperation and settle differences by jointly upholding peace and stability in the South China Sea,” Wang said.

As a result of rejuvenated China-Philippines relations, the two countries held the 1st Meeting on the Bilateral Consultation Mechanism on the South China Sea in Guiyang last month.

Sta. Romana, who led the Philippine contingent, described the meeting as “excellent” where both parties tackled almost all contentious issues. Next meeting will be held in Manila later this year.

Aside from meeting with his Chinese counterpart, Cayetano also met with State Councilor Yang Jiechi and is also scheduled to meet with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Friday as part of his official visit to China from June 28 to July 1. (PNA)

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