'China, Philippines returning to the right path of handling sea row'
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, right, prepares to leave from a shopping mall in Beijing, China, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016. This week's visit to China by Duterte points toward a restoration of trust between the sides following recent tensions over their South China Sea territorial dispute, China's official news agency said Tuesday.
AP/Ng Han Guan

'China, Philippines returning to the right path of handling sea row'

Patricia Lourdes Viray (Philstar.com) - October 20, 2016 - 11:03am

MANILA, Philippines — China and the Philippines are returning to the "right path" of resolving the South China Sea issue through bilateral dialogue, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday.

President Rodrigo Duterte is currently in Beijing for a four-day state visit. He is set to hold talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping and other Chinese leaders.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying noted that Duterte has said that he will come to China to make a "soft landing" for the issue.

"We hold a consistent and clear position concerning this, advocating and committing ourselves to properly resolving relevant issues with countries concerned through dialogue and consultation," Hua said in a press briefing.

Hua also noted that Duterte sincerely trusts China and hopes to handle relevant issues and expand bilateral cooperation through his visit.

"Friendly neighbors are supposed to get along with each other in this way. For China, we have our own judgment about who is our friend and make our own decision on what issues should be addressed in a friend-to-friend way," Hua said.

China is willing to play an active part in boosting the Philippines' economic and social development, as well as its campaign against illegal drugs, Hua said.

"It is believed that the two sides will extend and deepen pragmatic cooperation across the board and realize common development as bilateral relationship gets better and better," the Foreign Ministry spokesperson said.

Beijing also expressed its willingness to talk with Duterte regarding cooperation on drug control and fight against drug crimes.

"The anti-drug issue as you mentioned is indeed a major concern of President Duterte. China appreciates President Duterte’s efforts to crack down on drug crimes and improve social security with the fundamental interests and well-being of his country and people in mind," Hua said.

Xi will hold a welcome ceremony and stage a welcome banquet for Duterte. The Philippine president will also meet with Premier Li Keqiang and Chairman Zhang Dejiang on separate occasions.

Duterte will also attend the opening ceremony of the China-Philippines economic and trade forum with Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli.

Around 400 delegates from the business sector accompanied Duterte to his state visit in China.

The Department of Foreign Affairs earlier said that the large business delegation shows the direction that Duterte wants to carry out in the Philippines' bilateral relations with China.

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