Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has arrived in Beijing, beginning his 4-day state visit to China.
Duterte and several Chinese officials have expressed confidence that the visit will bring bilateral ties between the two countries back to the right track of healthy and steady development.
Duterte’s visit to China is his first visit to a non-ASEAN country since taking office in June.
Duterte is scheduled to meet several Chinese leaders including President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang.
Ahead of his visit, Duterte elaborated on his hopes of improving and strengthening bilateral relations with China and bringing prosperity to his country.
“Well, in one word, I would say it is a defining moment of my presidency to open frontiers of friendship and cooperation, enhancement of all relationship between our two countries, and some dark spots in the relationships, or better still, you may call it gray areas. So we want these totally erased, and I want to establish a more cohesive and a stronger bond between China and the Philippines.”
His visit comes amid a backdrop of deteriorating China-Philippines ties, due to the unilateral filing of the South China Sea arbitration case initiated by former Philippine President Benigno Aquino III.
Duterte noted that insistence on territorial claims does not help with economic development, and that a better China-Philippines relationship can benefit his country’s sluggish domestic economy.
“(I’m going) there in friendship and to extend my hand in warm brotherhood, and also to ask for help. I must be frank, I must be honest enough to say that we need your help.”
A number of Chinese officials have expressed confidence in Duterte’s visit, noting that better ties between the two sides benefit both peoples, and regional peace and development.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Duterte’s visit will be a historic one and will become a new starting point in the Sino-Philippine relationship.
“China pays high attention to the visit. We have made good preparations and we want to open our arms of friendship and extend our hands of cooperation to the Philippine people. We believe that President Duterte’s visit will be a success and will not only bring the relations between China and the Philippines back to the right track but also open new prospects for the win-win cooperation in various fields between the two countries.”
He notes that no foreign force can stand in the way of improvements to China-Philippines relations.
Shen Danyang, spokesperson for China’s Ministry of Commerce, also confirmed that both countries are actively preparing for further economic and trade cooperation.
“China and Philippines will further boost connections in terms of economic and trade development strategies. The two countries will embark on in-depth discussions about ways to expand bilateral trade, promote and guide Chinese enterprises to expand investment in the Philippines and strengthen cooperation in fields such as infrastructure, and training on human resources.”
The Philippines is currently the largest supplier of bananas to China, accounting for 82 percent of the country’s banana imports.
It also provides 70 percent of China’s pineapples imports.