|2019.12.16.||| | | ||
"As the Philippines Ambassador to China, I feel great responsibilities on my shoulders."
-- Interview with the Philippine Ambassador to China, H.E. Mrs. Erlinda Basilio
Ambassador Basilio is a senior diplomat. Since she became the Philippine Ambassador to China in March 2014, she has faced unprecedented challenges. The dispute on the South China Sea set a relationship hurdle between China and the Philippines. In such situation, Ambassador Basilio brought her unique women's diplomatic demeanor to convey the everlasting friendship and great kindness. She said, no matter Huangyan Island or Bajo de Masinloc, they are just a few rocks. Rocks will never move by themselves, but we have to move forward for a greater future. Ambassador Basilio has made remarkable contributions to continuously promote the cooperation between China and the Philippines and maintain regional peace, stability and dynamic development in Asia. Recently, Ambassador Basilio accepted our exclusive interview.
"Good morning, Ambassador Basilio. Since China and the Philippines have established diplomatic relations 40 years ago, both countries have continuously deepened bilateral cooperation in culture, high tech, tourism, and other sectors through a series of cooperative plans and programs. Between January and July 2014, the bilateral trading volume reached $10 billion, a 19% increase, making China the biggest trading partner of the Philippines. This significant achievement was accomplished regardless of the political relationship between the two countries. How do you view this situation?" we asked.
"The existing economic relationship between the Philippines and China can be defined under the broad categories of: 1) trade, 2) investments, and 3) tourism. On trade, the bilateral trade has been increasing through the years. In 2007, total trade between our two countries amounted to US$9.8 billion. This has since grown to $14.8 billion for the period January to October 2014, or an increase of approx. 51%. This trade has benefitted China because of the increase in its exports to the Philippines from 6% growth in 2007, to 21% growth in 2013. As the Philippines maintains its fast-paced growth, because of its favorable demographics, and it has been one of the fastest growing economies in Southeast Asia, China should expect to further increase its exports to the Philippines in the years to come.
In terms of investments, there is a lot of potential for Chinese direct investments in the Philippines. In 2013, Chinese enterprises invested US$5.7 billion in Southeast Asia. Of this amount, only $44 million went to the Philippines. This is less than 1% of total Chinese direct investments in Southeast Asia. I strongly encourage Chinese enterprises to explore the commercial benefits of investing in the Philippines because of: 1) its abundance in natural resources, 2) competitively priced and very skilled labor force, 3) geographic proximity to China (where the Philippines can be used as a production base for products bound for the Chinese market), 4) access to international markets because of its free trade arrangements with other countries, 5) strong domestic market.
Tourism is another component of our bilateral economic relations. In 2008, there were only 164,000 visitors to the Philippines from China. This has since increased to 395,000 Chinese visitors to the Philippines in 2014 – an increase of about 140%. We are confident that more of our Chinese friends will be visiting the Philippines in the near future, since they have been discovering that it is indeed “More Fun in the Philippines." Ambassador Basilio answered.
The journalist asked: "You have been working as the Philippine Representative in the United Nations, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines and the Acting Foreign Minister. Therefore, you are an excellent female diplomat. When China and the Philippines had some conflicts and challenges, you must be taking great responsibilities as the Philippine Ambassador to China. How will you contribute your wisdom and experience to promote the development of the smooth relationship between China and the Philippines?"
Ambassador Basilio said that Philippines highly values its relations with China so I consider my role as Philippine Ambassador to China a singular honor and privilege. When I accepted the assignment to this very important post, I was answering my nation's call to be at the forefront of efforts to strengthen our relations with the Chinese government and the Chinese people. I hope that the knowledge and experience I have gained in over 40 years as a civil servant and as a diplomat, as well as the high esteem and respect I hold for China's rich past and even richer future, have prepared me well for this opportunity to sustain my country's efforts in continuing to build our ties with China. I am proud to be representing the interests of the Philippines in China and making my modest contributions to one of the most significant bilateral relationships of the Philippines. "
"China and the Philippines are actively exploring the cooperative opportunities in the cultural field and often sending the delegation groups to the other country for cultural exchange. Chinese people learned during the Shanghai World Expo that the Philippines is a beautiful country. Could you please share your views on the Philippines' unique culture?"
"The strong influences from its colonial past make Filipino culture distinct and unique. The Spanish influence on Philippine culture is much evident in our languages and dialects which have many borrowed Spanish words, as well as our religious nature which is manifest in our celebration of fiestas or feast days in honor of the patron saint of each town or village.
This rich and diverse culture is what we wish to share with our Chinese friends. As you probably are aware of, the peoples of the Philippines and China have been in contact for hundreds of years. In order to enhance our cultural and people-to-people relations, it is important to first build trust, understanding and amity between our two peoples. There is no better way to do this than through further increasing our people-to-people exchanges and contacts with them, particularly in the fields of culture, tourism, women, sports, science and technology, youth and education.
Our Embassy and the six Philippine Consulates General in China have been actively participating in the various exhibitions, fairs, expositions and other economic and cultural events throughout China to showcase the many aspects of the best of Filipino lifestyle and culture, with the aim of drawing the hearts and minds of our Chinese friends ever closer to the Philippines. With our ties going back to many centuries, it is no wonder that the destiny of the Filipino and Chinese peoples is inextricably linked in many ways. This, I believe, is what deepens and enriches our mutual trust and understanding."
Thank you very much for accepting our exclusive interview!