A retired police officer burns a Chinese flag during the “Global Day of Action” protest against China’s claims in the South China Sea, near the Chinese consular office in Makati city, metro Manila July 24, 2013. Civil society groups on Wednesday demanded China respect Philippine sovereignty and agree to arbitration to resolve disputes in the South China Sea, a local media reported. (MNS photo)

MANILA  (Mabuhay) – President Benigno Aquino III on Monday said he is hoping for “more love” from China to enable the Philippines to reach its tourism goals.

In his fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA), Aquino pointed out that some Chinese tourists seem to have fallen “in love” with the Philippines when the Shanghai Morning Post named the country as the “Most Romantic Destination of 2012.”

“Hopefully, they [the Chinese] will love us more,” the President said in his speech delivered before a joint session of Congress.

Aquino made these statements amid an ongoing territorial row between the Philippines and China over parts of the South China Sea. The Philippines refers to parts of the South China Sea as West Philippines Sea.

Last February, the President said a “big nation” has caused the Department of Tourism to “miss” some of its targets.

In his SONA, Aquino likewise cited Tourism chief Ramon Jimenez Jr. for the increasing number of international tourist arrivals in the Philippines, which reached 4.3 million for the first time last year.

He also reiterated the Philippines’ target to have 56.1 million domestic arrivals by 2016.  (MNS)