Philippines' President Aquino to visit tree planted by his mom in Fujian

Updated: 29 Aug 2011
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WHEN Philippines' President Aquino visits China this week, he will also visit the roots of his ancestors, Fujian province, where his mother former president Corazon Aquino planted a tree during a visit there 19 years ago.

"I understand my mother planted a tree about over 20 years ago. It should be really quite a tall tree now. So I would like to thank those who took care of it…Our culture has undoubtedly been enriched by all of these interactions stretching through the centuries. One would definitely benefit from renewing the ties and ‘retracing’ roots," he said.

The President also expressed optimism that Philippine-China relations will not be strained by their territorial dispute in the West Philippine Sea (South China).

Aquino was interviewed by Chinese media last Friday in preparation for his state visit to China on Aug. 30 to Sept. 3. The transcript of the interview was made public yesterday by the Chinese embassy.

On the dispute in the West Philippine Sea, Aquino said the Philippines and China both want to resolve the issue peacefully based on international law.

"Both would want to champion the national interests. But at the same time, we are cognizant of the interest of the other party. So there is a willingness to explore all of these possibilities," he said.

"I don’t see why the relationships would be sabotaged. I don’t think that it redounds to anybody’s interest to have conflict within these disputed areas," he added.

He likened the Philippines and China to a couple married for 50 years but still getting to know each other.

"So, perhaps the conflicts provide an opportunity also to have the test that makes for a stronger relationship."

Aquino said he wants to "mature the relationship (of the Philippines) with China and its peoples" through a fruitful dialogue during his state visit. He said China was the first country to invite him to make a visit after his inauguration last year.

He said the "piedra de china," or paving stones used as ballast since the ancient times in the Philippines, is a symbol of the strength of the relationship between the Philippines and China.

He said China is the third largest trading partner of the Philippines, next to the US and Japan, and fourth in terms of overseas development assistance.

"I want to do everything possible to further increase that. I also believe that increasing prosperity for both our peoples leads to stable relationships, which is a goal that every country would want to achieve…So there is the theme: strengthen the ties, gain greater cooperation in so many fields. When I say so many fields, it’s not just limited to the economic side," he said.

He said his state visit is already successful because it includes a business delegation of 300 Filipino businessmen, including taipans of Chinese descent.

Senators, led by Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, expressed optimism that Aquino’s China trip would be a success.

Enrile said there are "a lot of issues" that Aquino can discuss with his counterpart, President Hu Jintao, and with other Chinese officials.

"China is our growing market. China is a part of our history, a part of our culture. We belong to the same area of the world," he said.
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