The Philippines looks forward to a more active role from China in helping to resolve regional and international issues and in maintaining international security, said the Philippine Ambassador to China Jose Santiago L. Sta. Romana during the ongoing session of the National People's Congress (NPC).
"In maintaining peace and stability in the South China Sea, the Philippines looks forward to China's continued active participation in negotiations with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on the Code of Conduct," Sta. Romana told the Global Times on Friday.
This year marks the 15th anniversary of the establishment of Sino-ASEAN Strategic Partnership. The two sides have intensified negotiations aimed at achieving a mutually beneficial Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement, and are working on the ASEAN-China Strategic Partnership Vision 2030.
The ambassador thinks highly of China's foreign policy released by the NPC, as it emphasizes the pursuit of economic liberalization, connectivity and regional integration, which is in line with the values of the Philippines and the bloc.
"For more than a decade, China has been a reliable partner in ASEAN'S development and has supported ASEAN centrality in the evolving regional architecture," he said.
Sta. Romana believes China's foreign policy is very "visionary" noting that Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said China will put the greater good before its self interest. Wang was speaking at a press conference on the sidelines of the NPC on March 8th.
The Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte will attend the Boao Forum for Asia in April, and is expected to meet Chinese leaders, said Sta. Romana.
"These frequent exchanges between the leaders of the Philippines and China attest to the importance of the bilateral relations," said Sta. Romana.
Duterte's adjustment to the Philippine foreign policy from relying on the US to an independent diplomacy does not only increase the country's regional influence but also boosts its ties with China, he said.
According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, China became the country's top trading partner in 2016 with total trade worth $21.937 billion or 15.5 percent of the Philippine's total foreign trade.
Citing Chinese Premier Li Keqiang's government work report, Sta. Romana said China's efforts to "further accelerate quality, sustainable and equitable economic development throughout the country" are quite impressive.
"In particular, he [Li Keqiang] focused on poverty alleviation and anti-pollution, and stressed the need to reduce financial systemic risks which are key to China's development and could, with modifications to suit local conditions, serve as a template for developing countries," he said.