MANILA, June 8 (Xinhua) -- Philippine President Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos on Thursday said the relationship between the Philippines and China "has not changed in any fundamental sense," vowing to exert more efforts to strengthen the ties between the two countries.
"We have not shifted away from China in any way," said Marcos after a ceremony awarding six individuals for their contribution to promoting ties between the Philippines and China, including former Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.
The bilateral relations had been a "boon" to the Philippines' economic strength over the past years, with China remaining the Southeast Asian country's top trading partner, said Marcos.
"The figures say it all," he added, stressing the need to preserve "the special rapport and kindred spirit" that the two countries nurtured.
"We continue to foster the friendship, relationship, partnership that we have been developing with China," he said a day before the 48th anniversary of the Philippines-China diplomatic relations.
"We will strive to make it more comprehensive, more strategic, all with the view to advancing the paramount interest of both our nations and our peoples," he added.
Marcos also stressed that good communication is the key to a good relationship. "As a guiding principle, we will pursue constant dialogue and an amicable approach to our decision-making and resolving issues."
The Award for Promoting Philippines-China Understanding's (APPCU) Hall of Fame in 2023 inducted former Philippine President Duterte for "nurturing a climate of harmony, and encouraging collaboration" between the two countries.
Carlos Chan, a Filipino-Chinese business tycoon and former Special Envoy of the President to China, was also named this year's APPCU Hall of Fame awardee.
The award, launched in 2021, is a joint initiative between the Chinese Embassy and the Association for Philippines-China Understanding (APCU), a local think tank, to reinforce relations between the two countries and raise awareness and reappraisal of the Filipino-Chinese historical roots and ties.
Marcos said the award ceremony is an occasion to honor individuals for their key achievements and "an opportunity to recognize our collective efforts as a nation to nurture and strengthen this healthy relationship that has served us so well through the years."
"Let us continue to work together to usher in an exciting chapter for our respective nations. One in which peace and mutual progress will be at the heart of the story that we will write side by side as friends, partners, and neighbors," Marcos said.
Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian said the two countries shall further deepen cooperation in various fields, prioritizing the four key areas of agriculture, infrastructure, energy and people-to-people exchanges.
"We firmly believe that upholding mutual respect and trust, cherishing good neighborliness and friendship, keeping to the direction of mutual understanding and mutual accommodation in settling differences serve as the fundamental principles of our bilateral relations," Huang said.