CHINESE Ambassador to Manila Zhao Jianhua said Tuesday he believes that China and the Philippines can handle their differences and work toward a more prosperous relationship despite the maritime disputes in the West Philippine Sea.

In a statement sent by the Chinese Embassy in Manila, Zhao said that they have taken note of President Benigno Aquino III's "positive remarks" at the Federation of Filipino Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry's (FFCCCII) celebration of the Philippines' 117th Independence Day.

The ambassador also took note of the "relevant statements" made by presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda on the China-Philippines relations.

"We believe that our two countries can properly handle our differences," Zhao said.

"We look forward to working with the Philippines to further promote bilateral commerce, trade, tourism and people-to-people exchanges so as to make sure our bilateral relations can enjoy a bright and prosperous future," he added.

On Monday, the FFCCCII cancelled the "diplomatic and friendship" part of what should have been a three-pronged celebration of the 14th anniversary of the Philippine-China Friendship Day, the 40th anniversary of the founding of bilateral relations between the two neighbors, and the 117th celebration of the Philippine Independence Day.

Instead, Monday's event became an advanced celebration of the 117th Independence Day on June 12.

Angel Ngu, the president of FFCCCII, said that the decision to cancel the "friendship and diplomatic" parts of the celebration was made after Aquino compared China's reclamation activities in the West Philippine Sea to Nazi Germany.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said Aquino's remarks were reckless.

Ngu added that last year, the word war wasn't that serious so they were able to celebrate the friendship day.

However, things have been spiraling out of control in terms of the two countries' diplomatic relations because of tensions being raised in the maritime area.

China has been expanding aggressively in at least seven reefs--particularly in the Mischief and Fiery Cross Reefs--in the resource-rich waters by building military-able facilities, including an airstrip and docking port.

The international community, led by the United States, has called on Beijing to stop trying to change the status quo in the region, and to follow international laws, particularly the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos). (CVB/Sunnex)