Xi Jinping calls on ex-Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to continue strengthening ties

Chinese President Xi Jinping called on a former Philippine president to “play an important role” in promoting ties between their countries amid territorial disputes in the South China Sea and Manila’s growing defense ties with the United States.

Xi hailed Rodrigo Duterte’s contributions to friendly exchanges between China and the Philippines as he hosted the former president at the Diaoyutai state guesthouse in Beijing on Monday, the state news agency reported. Xinhua.

During his presidency, which ended last year, Duterte “resolutely made the strategic choice to improve relations with China, with an attitude of responsibility towards the people and history” and handed over the Bilateral relations “on track” to flourish, Xi Jinping said on Monday.

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“The development of the two countries is rooted in the peripheral good-neighbourly and friendly environment and the Asian family of win-win cooperation,” Xi told Duterte. “I hope you will continue to play an important role in the friendly cooperation between the two countries.”

Duterte visited China as current Philippine President Ferdinand Marco Jnr draws closer to the United States to tighten defense ties amid growing tensions between China and the Philippines in the South China Sea.

The Philippines and several other countries have longstanding claims that rival Beijing in the region.

In late June, the Philippine Navy first deployed its anti-submarine warfare assets to the Western Philippine Sea – known in China as the eastern parts of the South China Sea – to enhance the capability of the force to detect and strike enemy ships.

Compared to his successor who took office in June last year, Duterte has taken a more pro-China stance during his six-year term.

Duterte thanked China for its “valuable support for the economic and social development of the Philippines, especially for its generous assistance to the Philippines in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic”, according to Xinhua.

Last month, Duterte warned that his country could become a “graveyard” if it were drawn into the Sino-American conflicts.

Former Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, right, is escorted by officials as he leaves a hotel in Beijing on Monday. Photo: AP Photo alt=Former Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, right, is escorted by officials as he leaves a hotel in Beijing on Monday. Photo: AP Photo>

In April, Manila gave the United States – its longtime security ally – access to four additional bases near the Taiwan Strait and the disputed South China Sea. The decision was condemned by China as “stoking the fire” of regional tensions.

Duterte questioned the decision to grant the United States greater military access, telling national media that it would be “pretty naive” to think that Washington would not deploy nuclear warheads in the Philippines.

On Monday, Xi said China upholds the policy of neighborhood diplomacy characterized by friendship, sincerity, mutual benefit and inclusiveness, and has always been committed to forging friendship and cooperation. partnership with its neighbors.

“China always attaches importance to China-Philippines relations and is willing to work with the Philippines to promote the steady and long-term development of their relations,” the Chinese president said.

Duterte reportedly said he would like to continue playing a role in promoting bilateral friendship.

The purpose of Duterte’s visit was unclear to the Philippines Foreign Ministry, according to The Manila Times.

But the trip preceded the International Criminal Court’s ruling on a case related to the Philippines’ brutal war on drugs under President Duterte.

This article originally appeared in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the most authoritative voice journal on China and Asia for over a century. For more SCMP stories, please explore the SCMP app or visit the SCMP Facebook and Twitter pages. Copyright © 2023 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

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