Chinese FM attributes renewed China-PHL relation to Pres. Duterte

BEIJING-- Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi attributed on Wednesday to President Rodrigo Duterte the renewed relationship between the Philippines and China, the world's second largest economy.

In a press conference at the sideline of the 5th Session of the National People's Congress here, Wang said President Duterte has appropriately handled the South China Sea issue.

"Since President Duterte came into office, he has appropriately handled the South China Sea issue and actively improved relations with China," Wang told the local and foreign media.

Wang said the good relation between the two countries will ultimately serve not only interest of the Philippines but also the expectation of the entire Asian region.

"The Philippines has extended a hand of friendship and of course, China will embrace it with open arms," the Foreign Minister said.

"The turnaround of China-Philippines relation lifts the benefits of friendship of our two peoples and the wider region. None of this happened by accident. It merely reflects what relationship is supposed to be like," he added.

In less than six months since President Duterte visited China, Wang said 1,000 Chinese tourist groups have visited the Philippines and China has imported over 2,000 tons of tropical fruits, including bananas, from the Philippines.

"At present the two countries, are tackling the full potentials of our bilateral cooperation to make up the lost time," Wang said.

He also said intensive discussions are ongoing for the cooperation on infrastructure projects such as railways, bridges and dams.

Wang said some of the projects might begin construction this year and being discussed by China's new Commerce Minister Zhong Shan who is on a visit to the Philippines.

"This speaks of China's intention to increase our friendship and cooperation with the Philippines," Wang said.

President Duterte's four-day visit in China in October last year has resulted in USD 24 billion investment pledges and funding, including for infrastructure projects.

According to Chinese media reports, the Philippines and China's bilateral trade remains stable with the 2016 volume trade that reached USD 47.2 billion or up by 3.3 percent from the previous year.

On the issue of South China Sea, Wang said the Philippines and China have agreed to establish the bilateral consultation and to set up cooperation mechanism between the two countries' coast guards.

"The China-Philippines relationship has indeed return to the right path, one that serves the interest of both peoples. Together, the two sides should march forward with unity and purpose," Wang said.

Wang said China will not allow the hard-earned stability in the South China Sea to be undermined again, adding the situation in the disputed territory has visibly calmed down due to joint efforts of China and the ASEAN countries.

He said China and 10 ASEAN countries had agreed in advancing the Declaration of the Conduct (DOC) of Parties in the Southeast Sea to settle the maritime dispute through dialogue and consultation.

"At this moment, if someone should try to make waves and stir trouble, they will have no support and face common opposition of the entire region," Wang said.

He said China-ASEAN Joint Working Group made visible progress in consultation and product the first draft of Code of Conduct (COC) in February this year.

Source: Philippines News Agency