China and the Philippines agreed on Friday to strengthen trade and economic cooperation between the two countries after the conclusion of a high-level meeting.
During a meeting with the Philippine cabinet's economic management team, Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang said China is willing to join hands with the Philippines to promote free trade and widen bilateral trade between the two sides.
Wang said that leaders of the two countries made a right decision last October to push bilateral relations back to the track of good neighborly friendship and cooperation. "Institutional cooperation has been completely restored. Cooperation in major sectors has witnessed quick development. There is a boom of Chinese companies investing in the Philippines and there is a rapid increase of Chinese visitors," he said. Wang said China is buying more and more tropical fruits from the Philippines. "All these show that bilateral relations between China and the Philippines have returned to the right track," he said. Wang, who is on a four-day visit to the Philippines, said he came here to push forward pragmatic cooperation in various fields in the hope that the two peoples would benefit from bilateral cooperation. "China invites the Philippines to join China's Belt and Road initiative to help the Philippines to develop," he said. Wang said China regards the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as its top priority in its peripheral diplomacy and China supports the establishment of ASEAN community and its central status in regional cooperation. He said China is willing to throw full support behind Philippines' rotating presidency of ASEAN in 2017. "China would like to work with the Philippines to deepen China-ASEAN relations, properly handle South China Sea issue, jointly safeguard stability in the South China Sea and maintain the good momentum of development in China-ASEAN relations," Wang Yang said. Wang said China hopes to see an early conclusion of the negotiations of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) in building a free trade zone in the Asia-Pacific region. "It will bring more opportunities for the region's countries, including the Philippines," he said. Officials of the Philippine side expressed their gratitude for China's support and aid, saying the Philippines will join hands with China in deepening cooperation in sectors such as infrastructure, trade, investments, agriculture, fishery and tourism. They said the Philippines attaches importance to China's role in regional cooperation, saying the Philippines will use its presidency to enhance China-ASEAN partnership and push forward RCEP negotiations. They said that the Philippines supports China's Belt and Road initiative and is willing to join it. The two sides signed the Six-Year Development Program (SYDP) for Trade and Economic Cooperation between the Philippines and China. The SYDP aims to promote stable and orderly development of economic cooperation, enlarge the scope and enhance the level of cooperation, and drive sustainable and inclusive socio-economic development in both countries.