BEIJING, March 16 (Xinhua) -- Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday sent congratulatory messages to an opening ceremony of the China-ASEAN tourism cooperation year, which was held in Manila, the Philippines.
China and the ASEAN countries, either connected by mountains and rivers or only separated by the sea, have a long history of friendly cooperation and people-to-people exchanges, Li said in his message.
China has set ASEAN as a priority of its foreign policy and supports ASEAN's central status in regional cooperation, said Li.
China is willing to build a closer China-ASEAN relationship by sharing development opportunities in the region and abiding by the principles of mutual respect, understanding, trust and support, and to work together for a closer China-ASEAN community with common destiny, promoting peace,stability and prosperity of the region and the world as well, Li added.
Tourism plays a key role in China-ASEAN people-to-people ties, contributing to a deeper mutual understanding and pragmatic cooperation in various industries, said Li.
So far China has become the biggest source of foreign tourists for ASEAN.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the association and is also the year in which both sides will focus on boosting two-way tourism. Li said China will use this opportunity to bring relations between both sides to a new level.
For his part, Duterte said cooperation between China and ASEAN sends a clear message to the world about the resolve of both sides to work together to accomplish their shared goals.
The Philippine leader said he expects closer relations between China and ASEAN to boost inclusive and sustainable development and lead to peace, security and development in the region.
Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang presented Li's congratulatory message while attending the ceremony in Manila.