The tension in the West Philippine Sea continues to rise every single day. Chinese President Xi Jinping is hopeful that former Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte will continue to uphold the affiliation between China and the Philippines.
Beijing Banks on Rodrigo Duterte’s Role in the Bilateral Relations’ Improvement
On Monday, (June 17, 2023) Duterte went to Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing to discuss with Xi a foreign policy in exchange for investment pledges.
“President Xi said he appreciates the strategic choice Mr Duterte made to improve relations with China during his presidency and his important contributions to friendly exchanges between the two countries,” said Hua Chunying, spokesperson of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Hua emphasized the Chinese government’s enthusiasm to work with the Philippines in nurturing the secure and constant growth of bilateral relations.
According to Duterte, the burgeoning friendly relations between the two Asian countries advance their interests. Likewise, it stands by the endeavour of several Filipinos. However, current Philippine President Ferdinand Marjos Jr is hinging on the United States.
Based on the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague in 2016 ruling, China’s claim of historic rights in the South China Sea was invalid. However, the communist country didn’t acknowledge or agree with the decision.
President Xi said that his country stays resolute to mutual benefit and inclusiveness, amity, sincerity, and good neighbourliness. He praised Duterte for keeping the strategic choice to boost relations with China with discernment to the people and history. He added that during Duterte’s regime, China’s relationship with the Philippines was back on course and improved.
Duterte, on the other hand, conveyed his appreciation for China’s valuable support to the Philippines’ economic and social development. He also mentioned China’s generous assistance during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
China, the Philippines’ Largest Trading Partner
The Philippines look to China as its largest trading partner as well as the largest source of importation. In 2022, the bilateral trade reached to $87.72 billion, according to China’s Foreign Ministry.
Chinese Academy of Social Sciences researcher, Zhang Jie said that Xi provided a high level of recognition to Duterte. The former Philippine president mended ties between the two countries, which also gave a clear impression of the significance that China put to the relationship.
“It also signalled China’s hope to see that the two sides can ensure the steady and positive growth of ties and the Philippines can continue to adopt a pragmatic China policy, like Duterte did,” Jie said.
Jie added that a stable relationship between the Philippines and China is valuable to peace and soundness in the South China Sea. This also ensures that China and members of the ASEAN can emphasise on regional cooperation moving forward.
Image Source: Ceslou/WikimediaCommons