On ‘Q’ with Chinese Ambassador Huang
In a recent interview on Q105.1, a station dedicated to the youth and perhaps, also the forever young at heart, an interview with the Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines was one that will be remembered to be enlightening, especially at a time when the whole world is challenged by a pandemic. As I mentioned before in another artilce, both the Philippines and China have made it clear that strengthening and fostering a positive relationship between our two countries is a primary goal. As we know, China is the Philippines’ largest trading partner and, in fact, as Ambassador Huang said in his interview, the Philippines is a major trading partner of China. While trading has been disrupted by the COVID-19 crisis, China is still, on the other hand, importing Philippine bananas, coconuts and other agricultural products as Chinese people simply love our fruits. Overcoming difficulties in maintaining the momentum of trade between our two countries is on constant watch and every effort is made to contribute to the recovery of both the Philippines and China.
One of the very important ongoing negotiations is on the fast lane arrangement between our two countries and the hope is to be able to conclude everything in the very near future in order to contribute to the trade and economic cooperation as well as recovery for both nations. A fast lane arrangement, as explained by Ambassador Huang, hopes to provide what is called the green corridor for logistics for the traders in our two countries where at this point, most projects are being recovered at about 80-90 percent production capacities.
According to Chinese statistics, in the first half of the year, the total value of China’s newly signed contracts of projects for the Philippines showed an increase of 26.5 percent, with SMEs playing a very important part in our country-to-country relationship. The synergy between the Belt and Road Initiative together with the Build Build Build plan has played an important role in economic development and step by step, challenges are being overcome.
As for a vaccine, Ambassador Huang explained how crucial it is for everyone to get over the challenges brought about by a pandemic and China has greatly invested in both vaccine research and development. A third phase of clinical trials which has been conducted for more than two months is currently ongoing in the UAE, where 1,800 people are Filipinos. The hope is for such a vaccine to save lives of the Chinese people as well as others around the world.
As for our differences, Ambassador Huang explained that, as neighbors, it is quite normal to have some differences since we are so close to one another; however, what is important to remember is how we handle those differences. Considering our relationship and looking at it as a whole, the South China Sea issue is a very small issue between the Philippines and China and while it is important, it is not the only basis for our relationship and we need to work together to manage our differences and put things in its proper perspective with the right approach.
Being once the head of the joint working group on the consultations on the code of conduct, Ambassador Huang explained that 11 parties agreed that everyone must do their best to work out and conclude the COC by the end of 2021 and, in the past few years, good progress has been made. The pragmatic cooperation between China and the Philippines has always been based on mutual respect and benefit, which is evident in the synergy between the Belt and Road and Build Build Build program.
On the issue of online gambling, Ambassador Huang explained that there are different perspectives between the Philippines and China with regard to online gambling, but through proper communication and close monitoring, the crackdown on illegal gambling, including the crimes related to gambling, is being addressed, considering that this issue has caused much harm to the Philippines, as well as created a negative image of China overseas. Weaving our tourism cooperation will help us better ensure the great potential between our two countries, including a healthy development of tourism in the future.
This year, we are celebrating the 45th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the Philippines and China, whose shared heritage is centuries old. Given this, Ambassador Huang expressed that because we have been friendly neighbors for a long period of time, we have achieved so much together in the political, economic and social fields, therefore strengthening our relationship more and more. At the end of the day, the kind ambassador said, as neighbors, we will always be together and living in peace and harmony will further deepen our relationship. We now know that understanding promotes trust and only in having trust can we, in turn, contribute to the further development and progress of our two nations.