China's Li tells Duterte he hopes ties can get back on normal track

Reuters

Posted at Sep 09 2016 09:00 AM

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte pose for photo during the ASEAN Plus Three Summit in Vientiane, Laos September 7, 2016. Soe Zeya Tun, Reuters

SHANGHAI - Chinese Premier Li Keqiang told Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte he hopes the two countries can work together to bring bilateral ties back to a normal track, the Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement posted on its website on Friday.

The two leaders met on the sidelines of a regional summit in the Lao capital Vientiane on Thursday at a time of tension between China and the Philippines over disputed territory in the South China Sea.

Li said he hoped bilateral relations could "realize healthy, stable development", the statement said.

Duterte said Li's remarks represented one of his own principles and he said improving relations with China was his "active desire", according to the statement.

China claims much of the South China Sea, through which more than $5 trillion of trade moves annually. Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have claims.

China has over the past year alarmed other claimants, and outside powers such as the United States and Japan, by re-claiming land on several disputed reefs through dredging, and building air fields and port facilities.

In July, an international arbitration case brought and won by Manila ruled that China's building of numerous artificial islands was illegal and its claims to most of the South China Sea had no legal basis. China has rejected the ruling.