Xi appreciates Duterte's role in promoting China-Asean ties

China's President Xi Jinping (left) had a phone conversation with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday (May 3).
China's President Xi Jinping (left) had a phone conversation with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday (May 3).PHOTOS: REUTERS,AFP

MANILA • China's President Xi Jinping has told Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte that he appreciates the important role played by the Philippines, as chairman of Asean this year, to promote cooperation between the region and China.

Mr Xi made the comments in a phone conversation with Mr Duterte yesterday, state media reported.

As Asean chair, Mr Duterte released a statement on Sunday that reiterated South-east Asian leaders' call for the "peaceful resolution of disputes" in the South China Sea.

The statement did not include references to China's island-building and weapons deployment in the strategic waterway, despite pressure from some diplomats at the summit.

It also did not touch on an international tribunal's ruling on a case filed by the Philippines that had struck down Beijing's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea. Those claims are also being contested by Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.

During the phone call, Mr Xi told Mr Duterte "the dialogue channels on the South China Sea issue have been established", Xinhua reported.

"This is in full accord with the fundamental interests of the two countries and the two peoples, and is fully affirmed by the Asian neighbours and the international community," he said.

He added: "China and the Philippines should adhere to the general direction of good-neighbourly and friendly cooperation… and push forward pragmatic cooperation in various fields."

Mr Xi also called on all sides in the Korean stand-off to exercise restraint and resume talks, a day after North Korea said the United States was pushing the region to the brink of nuclear war.

He was quoted by Xinhua as telling Mr Duterte that China "insists on realising the denuclearisation of the peninsula, on maintaining peace and stability on the peninsula and on dialogue and consultation to solve the problem".

"We advocate that the parties concerned will exercise restraint and return to dialogue as soon as possible to resolve the problem," said Mr Xi. Raul Dancel and Lim Yan Liang

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 04, 2017, with the headline 'Xi appreciates Duterte's role in promoting China-Asean ties'. Print Edition | Subscribe