By Minerva BC Newman
CEBU CITY – Chinese Consul General Jai Li highlighted the deepening relationship between the Philippines and China in his message Thursday to media practitioners at Mactan Shangri-La Resort here.
Li said that based on his stint in Cebu he has seen the importance attached by the Philippine government, Cebu’s government officials and the Cebuano community to the ties that bind China and the Philippines.
The steady increase in the number of Chinese tourists coming to the Philippines is proof of the strengthening relations between the two countries. The number of tourists coming to the Visayas steadily increased from 128,356 in 2015 to 244,925 in 2016 to 429,306 in 2017. “A whopping 75.28 percent increase,” Li said.
He cited the Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA) that now services about 10 direct flights to and from different cities in China and Cebu. With the opening of the Panglao International Airport last week, more Chinese visitors will experience what hundreds of thousands of their countrymen have been raving about, Li said.
He said there were a number of Cebuanos and Visayan people who availed of training seminars hosted by different organizations in China over the years.
“The Chinese Consulate in Cebu would like to work closely with the local governments and relative parties to expand mutually beneficial cooperation, intensify exchanges at all levels and in various fields, so as to allow bilateral relations to keep developing in a healthy and stable direction,” Li said.
China-Philippines relations entered a new era after President Duterte visited China.
“There are also memorandum of understanding (MOU) for political, economic and security programs as well as people-to-people cultural exchanges,” Li said.
He said China celebrates the 30 years of reforms which made his country the world’s second largest economy, contributing 30 percent to the world’s economic growth. China is also the largest tourism country having successfully lifted about 700 million Chinese out of poverty.