President Hu Jintao met Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in Manila on Wednesday and witnessed the signing of 14 agreements.
"China and the Philippines have taken the lead in making the breakthrough in joint development in the South China Sea, thus taking a valuable step forward in turning the area into a sea of friendship and cooperation," Hu said.
Among the agreements were: a low interest loan of US$500 million to Manila, mining projects, joint offshore exploration operations, telecommunications projects and youth affairs.
Last year, bilateral trade amounted to more than US$13 billion and the two countries are targeting annual trade of US$30 billion by 2010.
A joint agreement on marine seismic undertaking in the South China Sea was signed last September and Vietnam also came on board in March, a move seen as a significant development in strengthening ASEAN-China cooperation and paving the way for the future settlement of the South China Sea dispute.
According to Hu, the bilateral relationship should be developed focusing on several aspects including personnel exchanges at all levels and in all fields, further trade and economic development, security consultation mechanisms, China-ASEAN ties and enhanced coordination in multi-lateral affairs.
Arroyo spoke highly of Hu's suggestions, saying bilateral ties "are in a golden age." She said the Philippines is willing to join efforts with China in expanding cooperation in the fields of resources.
As for detailed trade cooperation, Hu said China will continue to take part in railway construction in the Philippines and will offer financing deals.
Speaking before the joint session of the Philippine congress on the second day of his three-day state visit, Hu said "development is the top priority for Asia and cooperation is the order of the day."
Hu reiterated that China is confident of meeting its target of US$200 billion annual trade with ASEAN countries by 2010, up from US$105.9 billion in 2004, with the help of steady progress in the development of a China-ASEAN Free Trade Area.
He also said China is ready to work actively with ASEAN to implement the China-ASEAN strategic partnership for peace and prosperity.
(China Daily April 28, 2005)