Duterte on Chinese New Year: Let's 'fortify' Fil-Chinese ties

MANILA, Philippines – For his first Chinese New Year message as President, Rodrigo Duterte called on Filipinos and Chinese to "fortify" goodwill between their peoples.

"May all of us develop a more profound appreciation of our heritage as two distinct yet intertwined peoples, and further fortify the goodwill that we have shared over the years," said Duterte in his message sent to media on Friday, January 27.

He spoke of beginnings as "vast opportunities for change" in the new year ahead.

Duterte, who himself counts many Filipino-Chinese and Chinese nationals as friends, mentioned the big role of Chinese culture in the Philippines.

"They have enriched the Filipino culture and history on their own. They have contributed to the economy by trade and investments. their cuisine has been dearly familiar to many Filipino homes," he said.

In his first year as president, Duterte made waves internationally by becoming friendlier to China than his predecessor, former president Benigno Aquino III. 

He followed this up with a state visit to China which the Chinese government said enabled the "full restoration" of ties between their country and the Philippines.

Duterte also frequently mentions his Chinese ancestry in public speeches. His grandfather on his mother's side was Chinese with the surname "Lam."

Here is President Duterte's 2017 Chinese New Year message in full:

Each beginning signals new chances and vast opportunities for change, and change can mean a forward move, a rising, or a leap towards a better station, a steady ground, a reason to be grateful for and proud of the gift of life, and the fulfillment of our aspirations. 

The government shares the joys and hopes of our Chinese friends and Chinese – Filipinos who have found a root and reason for staying in the country.

They have enriched the Filipino culture and history on their own. They have contributed to the economy by trade and investments. Their cuisine has been dearly familiar to many Filipino homes.

Their philosophy and attitude in life are a wellspring of practical lessons that all of us, regardless of nationality, can learn from. 

May all of us develop a more profound appreciation of our heritage as two distinct yet intertwined peoples, and further fortify the goodwill that we have shared over the years.

To everyone else who believes in the miracle of beginnings and who makes a choice for hope against fear, my best wishes on this auspicious season of the Chinese New Year. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.

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