Duterte, Xi to hold “very substantial” bilateral talks in sideline of forum in May
January 24, 2017
President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping will hold bilateral talks in May at the sidelines of a multilateral forum in Beijing, China Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua said Monday night.
The visit to China and his meeting with Xi is Duterte’s second since he became president in June 2016.
“It’s a summit and a bilateral meeting,” Zhao said at the Chinese embassy’s New Year reception when asked by reporters to confirm if Duterte will attend the ‘One Belt, One Road’ summit.
Zhao said the meeting will be on “merits and actions” to be taken by both sides to enhance its developing ties.
“It’s going to be very substantial,” Zhao said of the Duterte-Xi meeting.
Duterte, since assuming office last year, has taken steps to mend ties with China as he berated Washington for its criticisms of his war against illegal drugs.
An international tribunal in The Hague ruled on July 12, 2016 that Beijing’s claims on nearly the whole South China Sea was nullified.
Duterte said he will temporarily set aside the ruling but added he will raise it at the right time.
In his welcome remarks at the reception, Zhao praised Duterte’s efforts to seek closer ties with China, calling him a “firm champion and wise builder”.
“Indeed, this relationship has been defined and nurtured by the vision and enterprise of the leaders and peoples of our two countries,” Zhao said. “This is how it should be between good neighbors.”
Zhao, in a separate interview, added he is confident diplomatic protest filed by the Philippines against China’s reported installation of weapons on artificial islands it built on the South China Sea will not affect ties.
“Please look at the positive side,” Zhao said. “We have agreed already to bring the issues concerning the South China Sea back to direct bilateral channels. So don’t worry.” DMS
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