Jose Santiago Sta. Romana (Photo/People’s Daily Overseas Edition)
For nearly 40 years, Jose Santiago Sta. Romana, ambassador of the Philippines to China, has remained a close friend to China.
His role has changed over the years, from a student in China to a reporter stationed in Beijing and then to a diplomat. Such changes have enabled him to observe the ever-changing country from different perspectives and gather a deeper understanding of the China-Philippines relationship.
While studying in China, Romana witnessed China in a time of scarcity, when it was planning its modernization. Romana thinks that China has experienced hard times in its development, but eventually found a path that works.
Romana said that over 20 years’ experience at the Beijing station of the American Broadcasting Company allowed him to see the various facades of China.
Jose Santiago Sta. Romana’s ID when he studied in China (Photo provided by Jose Santiago Sta. Romana)
According to Romana, he was most impressed by China during the tragic 2008 Sichuan earthquake while he was conducting interviews around the country. He still remembers that over 100,000 military soldiers from all over China rushed to the disaster-stricken area in a few days, showing the world how Chinese people united as one in the face of natural disasters.
Romana pointed out that some western media outlets tend to focus on the negatives of China because they use conflict and drama to sell newspapers. He suggested China share its values and ideas more with other countries to help the world know it better.
As a diplomat, Romana has played an essential role in the milestones of China-Philippines relations. When Fidel Valdez Ramos, former president of the Philippines, made his ice-breaking trip to Hong Kong in 2016, Romana served as a senior adviser in the delegation. He has witnessed and will continue to push forward the bilateral relations.
Jose Santiago Sta. Romana as a journalist working in China. (Photo provided by Jose Santiago Sta. Romana)
Romana believes that the Philippines and China have common interests in a wide range of areas such as trade, development and infrastructure. He noted that differences between the two countries should not be an obstacle to communication and cooperation.
The best way to improve China-Philippines relations is to stimulate the cooperation in trade, investment and economy, said Romana.