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PIA Press Release

We are family, says PGMA of RP, China

Shanghai (11 June) -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo Wednesday night acknowledged the Philippines' growing relations with China, saying the two countries are more than neighbors, partners and friends.

"We are family," she stressed in a speech at a gala show celebrating the 35th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Manila and Beijing.

"Over the past 35 years, we have witnessed the improvement of our ties. But the ties of friendship, the interactions and experiences predate the establishment of our relations by many centuries," she told a capacity crowd at the Red Hall Theatre of the Expo Center inside the sprawling Shanghai World Expo site.

The Chief Executive, who early in her presidency, made June 9 of every year Fil-Chinese Friendship Day, pointed out that practically every Filipino has Chinese ancestry, citing his great, great grandfather, a Chinese from Fujian, who fought under the Spanish flag to defend Manila from the British.

"This is only one example of the intricate affinity by blood between Filipinos and Chinese," she said.

Although this is her 10th visit to the Mainland, the President acknowledged the fact that her first and last trip to China as head of state happens to be in this largest city and most important economic center.

China, according to the President, is now among the Philippines' largest trading partner. It is also one of the fastest growing sources of tourists for the country, averaging an annual growth rate of 43 percent.

Filipino businessmen, she said, have invested P2.6 billion in China while Chinese investments in the Philippines have likewise grown, she added.

The Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry hosted the gala show that focused on the theme, "Two Rivers, Two Hearts," representing the close relationship between the two countries. It was preceded by a cocktail reception for the Chief Executive at the Foyer of the Expo Center's Gold Hall.

The gala show focused on the Philippines as a wonderful mix of the old and new, the traditional and the classical, the tribal and the urban.

Performances by artists such as world renowned pianist Cecille Licad, sopranos Rachelle Gerodias and Joann Go, the Philippine Madrigal Singers, Ballet Philippine dancers and the Philippine Folk Dance Ensemble, among others, focused on the Philippines as a vanguard for urbanization in the Asian region.

Through a musical thread, they were able to illustrate the path taken by the Philippines in fulfilling its dreams of unity, economic stability and cultural wealth.

Augmenting the performances were videos and photographs of the country and its people.

After the show, the President left for the Hongquiao International Airport and departed for Manila. (PIA) [top]

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