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China: Ties with Philippines improved since Duterte visit

FILE - Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, left, and Chinese President Xi Jinping shake hands after a signing ceremony in Beijing, China, Thursday, Oct. 20, 2016. AP/Ng Han Guan, Pool

MANILA, Philippines — The relationship between the Philippines and China significantly improved after the state visit of President Rodrigo Duterte to Beijing last October, a Chinese official said.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said that China appreciates the decision of Duterte to set aside the South China Sea arbitration.

"China welcomes and appreciates the remarks by President Duterte, whose policy on the South China Sea arbitration meets the fundamental interests of the two countries and two peoples and exemplifies the increasingly deepened mutual trust and amicable relations between the two," Hua said in a press briefing.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry official also said that Beijing is willing to work with Manila to enhance political mutual trust and to properly resolve the maritime dispute.

"Bilateral mutual trust keeps building up and pragmatic cooperation in various fields runs in full fledge with fruitful results," Hua said.

Duterte earlier said that he is willing to share oil from the South China Sea or West Philippine Sea with China despite constitutional and international law constraints on exclusive economic zones.

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"Kung gusto ninyo, let's just develop what's the oil there, hati na lang tayo," Duterte said in a speech at Malacañan on Monday evening.

Under the 1987 Constitution, "the exploration, development, and utilization of natural resources shall be under the full control and supervision of the State" although this can be done in partnership with Filipino citizens or with corporations owned by Filipinos.

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