Chinese President Xi Jinping said he wants to deepen relations with the Philippines under incoming President Rodrigo Duterte amid rising tensions over territorial disputes in the South China Sea.
“A friendly, stable and sound China-Philippines relationship is in the fundamental interests of the two countries and their people,” Xi said in a congratulatory message to Duterte on Monday after his proclamation as the next Philippine president.
“We hope the two sides can work together to bring bilateral relations back on a healthy track.”
Maintaining and strengthening Sino-Philippine friendship is a shared responsibility between the leaders of both countries, according to the statement.
Duterte is adopting a more conciliatory tone on the sea dispute than outgoing President Benigno Aquino III, who brought China before an international arbitration tribunal over its claims to 80 percent of one of the world’s most strategic waterways, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Aquino also allowed the United States to use some of the Philippine military bases in a bid to check China’s expansion in the South China Sea, where it has built several artificial islands.
Since Duterte’s victory in the May 9 election, Philippine authorities say Filipino fishermen have been able to work in the Scarborough Shoal without being harassed by the Chinese coast guard, the newspaper reported.
Local fishermen had been barred from entering the waters around the shoal since China seized it from the Philippines in 2012.
Duterte will take the oath of office on June 30.
– Contact us at [email protected]