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The historic China visit by the House 14 and the promotion of Hu Jing, Hu Hui

By Rep. Gina de Venecia The goodwill visit to China by the 14 delegates of the Association of Women Legislators Foundation, Inc. (AWLFI) of the Philippine House of Representatives -- the largest ever in Philippine-China parliamentary relationsat a time of stalemate and tension was an enriching experience and a modest diplomatic triumph for both countries. The friendly and spirited discussions between us, the 14 Philippine congresswomen and the Chinese political and business leaders in the cities of Beijing, Shanghai and Chengdu & Dijuangyan of the Sichuan province, touched on women issues and the promotion of the Sino-Philippine friendship. Dubbed House 14 who went to China were: Senior Deputy Majority Leader Janette Garin, Former Deputy Speaker Daisy Avance-Fuentes, Rep. Josefina Joson, Rep. Maria Theresa Bonoan-David, Rep. Bai Sandra Sema, Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy, Rep. Mercedes Alvarez, Rep. Rachel Marguerite Del Mar, Rep. Ana Cristina Go, Rep. Linabelle Ruth Villarica, Rep. Emmeline Aglipay, Rep. Nancy Catamco, Rep. Cinchona Cruz-Gonzales, Rep. Abigail Faye Ferriol and myself as head of the delegation. As President of AWLFI, I commend my colleagues for taking part in this nine-day (April 19 to 28) mission to China. It took a lot of courage from the members of the delegation to join this official and people- to- people visit amid the brewing tension at the Panatag Islands at the West Philippine Sea; to the Chinese, Huangyan Island in the South China Sea. In the end, we decided it was prudent to honor our long- standing and long-scheduled commitment to visit China upon the invitation of the Communist Party of China (CPP) to exchange ideas on various women initiatives, in the spirit of the joint declaration signed by President Benigno Aquino and China President Hu Jintao, September of 2011, declaring 2012 and 2013 as Years of Friendly Exchanges. The House 14 also took the China visit as an opportunity to contribute in the peacekeeping efforts and help perpetuate a harmonious Philippine-China relationship as unofficial envoys of peace, because as legislators it is our patriotic duty to promote the interest of our country. Former Deputy Speaker Daisy Fuentes expressed this sentiment in one of the meetings with the CPP officials. She said, We were a little apprehensive coming here, but we hope that by honoring your invitation, we have shown you that we have chosen the path of peace, in resolving the conflict between our countries. Our government is doing its best to protect the Philippine sovereignty and announced its move to bring the case of the Panatag conflict before the UNCLOS (United Nations Convention of the Law of the Seas). The Chinese government however is opposed to the idea and will not submit to the international tribunal. In the meantime, our allies, the United States and the ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) member-

countries remain ambivalent in their position regarding our territorial dispute with China. The U.S. has declared its neutrality on the territorial disputes in the sea. In view of these developments and based on the House 14 discussions with the officials of the Communist Party of China, I am convinced that it is to our interest that we pursue the course espoused by former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissingers & President Nixons landmark opening to China some 40 years ago. Kissinger told the Chinese: Hu Hu Jing, Hu Hui (Mutual Respect, Mutual Benefit) in resolving conflicts. This suggestion to adopt the principle of Hu Hu Jing, Hu Hui in governing the Philippine-China relations, in fact, merited an optimistic response from Madame Chen Zhili, Vice Chairperson of the Standing Committee on Chinas National Peoples Congress (NPC) and President of All-China Womens Federation (ACWF), who stated in reply to my speech at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing last April 20: Hu Jing Hu Hui, Cong Tong Fa Zhan (Mutual Respect, Mutual Benefit, Joint Development).