MANILA, Philippines — China was the only country who openly supported the Philippine government's campaign against the illegal drug trade while the United States (US) and the European Union (EU) only criticized the drug war, President Rodrigo Duterte said.
"China is the only country to come out freely and a firm statement that they are supporting the fight against drugs in my country," Duterte said in an interview with Chinese state news agency Xinhua on Tuesday.
The president added that the Chinese government assisted in building a drug rehabilitation facility in the country.
Duterte stressed that China never criticized his war against drugs while the US and the EU have called on him to stop the rising number of extrajudicial and vigilante killings of drug suspects in the country.
"The other countries, United States, EU, instead of helping us they know that we are short of money... all they had to do was to criticize. China never criticized," the chief executive said.
The president added that China helped quietly in building the new drug rehabilitation center at Fort Magsaysay in Palayan City, Nueva Ecija.
"They helped us quietly. It was not only after last week that I knew that the buildings are almost complete and nobody knew it," Duterte said.
As he pays a four-day state visit to China, Duterte said that he wants to improve trade relations with Beijing despite the maritime dispute over the South China Sea.
Duterte stressed that "there is no sense in going to war just fighting over a body of water."
"We would like to go there to make friends but not really to ask for money but to call for help. If we can have the things that you have given to other countries, your assistance, we also would like to be a part of it and to be a part of the greater plans of China about the whole of Asia particularly Southeast Asia," Duterte said.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi earlier praised Duterte for working to improve ties with Beijing.
"This reflects the wish of the Philippine people, and is in line with the Philippines' national interest. No foreign force can stand in the way of such process," Wang said.
LIVE updates: Duterte's state visit to China