Philippine President Duterte to visit China from Oct 18-21: Beijing

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (above) will visit China from Oct 18 to 21, at the invitation of President Xi Jinping.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (above) will visit China from Oct 18 to 21, at the invitation of President Xi Jinping. PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING (Reuters) - Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte will visit China from Oct 18 to 21 at the invitation of President Xi Jinping, China's Foreign Ministry said on its website on Wednesday (Oct 12). It did not provide any details.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Mr Duterte would meet President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang on his trip and have a "deep exchange of views" on how to improve ties, cooperation and regional issues.

"China looks forward to increasing mutual trust between the two countries, deepening practical cooperation and continuing the tradition of friendship via the visit of President Duterte," Mr Geng told a daily news briefing.

The two should appropriately handle disputes through talks and promote a strategic, cooperative relationship that is dedicated to peace and development, he added.

"The Philippines is a traditionally friendly neighbour of China. The two peoples have a long history of friendship."

About 250 Philippine business executives will visit Beijing with Mr Duterte. Filipino executives are eager to talk to Chinese business leaders and government officials about deals in a range of sectors, from rail, and construction to tourism, agribusiness, power and manufacturing, sources told Reuters.

Elected in June, Mr Duterte's deadly war of drugs and support for extrajudicial killings have drawn the ire of the US, a former colonial power and traditionally one of the Philippines' staunchest supporters.

Mr Duterte has responded to that criticism by telling US President Barack Obama to "go to hell" and saying he wants to distance the Philippines' dependence on the country.

Coinciding with that has been a rapprochement with China, despite the cool relations the two countries have had, dogged in recent years by mistrust over rival territorial claims in the South China Sea.

Mr Duterte said on Tuesday he will also probably visit Russia after a trip to Japan this month.

An arbitration court ruling in the Hague on July 12 that said China had breached the Philippines' sovereign rights in the South China Sea had threatened to lead to a further deterioration in ties between Manila and Beijing.

But Mr Duterte's forthcoming trip could prove a turning point, with promises to hold talks with China on the South China Sea dispute and signs of a new and potentially much deeper economic relationship.

Chinese spokesman Geng repeated Beijing's standard line that China wanted to resolve the dispute via talks with the parties directly involved, including the Philippines.