MANILA, Nov. 23 (Xinhua) -- Officials, business leaders and scholars in the Philippines said they are confident in the future of Philippines-China relations following the state visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to the country earlier this week.
Xi wrapped up his two-day visit to the Philippines on Wednesday. During the visit, the Chinese president and his Philippine counterpart, Rodrigo Duterte, agreed to upgrade bilateral ties to a relationship of comprehensive strategic cooperation on the basis of mutual respect, sincerity, equality, mutual benefit and win-win cooperation.
Hermogenes Esperon, Philippine national security adviser, said Xi's visit signals a new beginning in relations between the two nations.
"There are many good results. There are new beginnings, and we hope to explore and have more discussions for stronger relationships," Esperon said. "It's a good start."
Martin Andanar, secretary of the Philippine Presidential Communications Operations Office, said Xi's visit further deepened and strengthened the already warm ties and upgraded bilateral relations to a new level.
It means that now the two countries "are not just acquaintances or ordinary friends," said Andanar. "You're almost best friends."
During the visit, Xi and Duterte reconfirmed the two countries' shared commitment to advancing cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative.
Philippine Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar said he saw very strong ties between the two Asian neighbors.
"We have a lot of cooperation especially in infrastructure. Many of our big-ticket projects will be done with the help from China," Villar said.
"That's why we're very grateful ... China is very good at infrastructure and we look forward to the mutually beneficial relationship," said Villar, expressing confidence that the relations will continue to improve.
The two sides signed a number of cooperation documents covering, among many others, the Belt and Road Initiative as well as oil and gas development.
The signing of the cooperation documents is "a positive step ... towards achieving a way forward on how to develop and tap the power resources in the region," said Philippine Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi.
Cusi said that he hopes the cooperation "can develop something that is good for everybody" and that the deal on oil and gas development cooperation will serve as a model for other countries in the region.
Francis Chua, chairman of the International Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, said the successful state visit by Xi was reassuring for the Philippine business community.
"Now, people from the Philippine industry and commerce have higher expectations for the future Philippine-China trade relations. I think in the future more and more Philippine goods can enter the Chinese market," Chua said.
During the visit, Xi said China will continue to expand exchanges and cooperation with the Philippines in education, culture and tourism.
According to a joint statement, the two sides fully recognize the importance of exchanges in education, including technical vocational education. They also recognize the importance of promoting understanding and friendship between the two countries and encouraging cooperation between their relevant government agencies and educational institutions.
Clarita Carlos, a political science professor at the University of the Philippines, said she is glad that some of the agreements signed are related to education.
"Since I'm an educator, I think the greatest linkage between peoples is through knowing each other. We now have a number of Confucius Institutes. We have one here in the university," she told Xinhua in an interview.
"Now there is an increase of interest among our young people to learn Mandarin because that is a competitive advantage. So, everything is for the good," she added.
Lucio Blanco Pitlo, a lecturer with the Chinese Studies Program at Ateneo de Manila University, said China and the Philippines have more areas for cooperation in the future, not only in economy but also in culture.
"It goes to show how diverse are the aspects of the bilateral relations, or how each one of them is equally important," Pitlo said.