Duterte lauds PH-China 'friendship' in Chinese New Year message

MANILA, Philippines – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte highlighted the friendship between the Philippines and China in his Chinese New Year message.

Sent to reporters on Thursday, February 15, the message highlights the shared history of the two nations.

"Our nation shares a long and colorful history with the Chinese. This enduring friendship has contributed to our rich culture, stimulated trade between our nations, and fortified the foundation of our continuing quest for economic development," said Duterte.

The President also spoke of the contributions of the Chinese-Filipino community to the country.

"As an integral component of Philippine society, Chinese-Filipinos will continue to play an important role in shaping our national identity and in upholding the beauty of diversity in our respective cultures," said Duterte.

"Let the joy of this occasion strengthen our sense of solidarity and goodwill as a single nation committed to the preservation of our unique and multi-faceted Filipino heritage," he added.

Philippine ties with China have had to endure recent controversy, including the continued construction by Beijing in a reef within the Philippines' exclusive economic zone and its naming of features in the Philippine Rise (Benham Rise), a continental shelf over which the Philippines has sovereign rights.

Malacañang, however, has maintained that the ties between the two nations remain intact. (READ: Roque: One day, we'll thank China for artificial islands) – Rappler.com