Duterte to attend Belt & Road summit as ties warm up

Source:Global Times Published: 2017/1/19 22:53:40

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte will visit China in May to attend a multilateral meeting, China's foreign ministry said on Thursday, marking his second visit to Beijing since taking office.

While meeting with Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin, Duterte spoke highly of the progress achieved in the rapprochement of China-Philippines relations since last year, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Thursday at a regular press briefing.

Duterte said he will travel to Beijing in May for a high-level forum on international cooperation of the Belt and Road initiative and looks forward to having another meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The two sides had candid and in-depth exchanges and forged broad consensus on the South China Sea issue, said Hua.

Both sides agreed that the South China Sea is only a tiny part compared to the overwhelmingly friendly relations between China and the Philippines that keep growing, and should be peacefully resolved through dialogue and consultation,  Hua added.

Diplomatic sources in Beijing say the government is expected to invite a large number of foreign leaders to attend the summit to be held in Beijing in May, Reuters reported.

China has dubbed a series of infrastructure projects stretching across some 60 countries as the One Belt and One Road initiative, based upon resurrecting the old Silk Road that once connected China with Central Asia, Europe and beyond, the report added.

Duterte reiterated last month that he wanted to avoid confrontation with China and saw no need to press Beijing to abide by a July ruling on China's claims in the disputed South China Sea that went in favor of the Philippines.

During Duterte's four-day visit to China in October, 2016, the two countries signed 13 cooperation agreements in sectors including trade, investment, tourism and infrastructure construction, said a statement released on the website of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs in October 2016.

China and the Philippines should steadily push forward their relations in the direction of neighborly friendship and cooperation, Xi said on the sidelines of the 2016 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders' Meeting, where Duterte also noted that the Philippines is willing to be friends with "brotherly" China forever.

Xi spoke highly of Duterte's visit to China in October, 2016, saying it fully improved China-Philippines relations, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

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