Duterte heralds 'springtime' in ties with China

Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 20 2016 02:37 PM

President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte (L) and Chinese President Xi Jinping attend a welcoming ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, October 20, 2016. Thomas Peter, Reuters

BEIJING - President Rodrigo Duterte signaled a fresh start to strained ties with China after he met with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, on Thursday and witnessed the signing of several cooperation agreements.

The two countries agreed that disputes in the South China Sea were not the sum total of relations, and that they would restore diplomatic and defense consultations, Chinese vice foreign minister Liu Zhenmin told reporters after the meeting.

Liu said China would restore Philippine agricultural exports to China and that Beijing would provide financing support for Philippine infrastructure.

"Even as we arrived in Beijing close to winter, this is a springtime of our relationship," Duterte told Xi.

"China has been a friend of the Philippines and the roots of our bonds are very deep and not easily severed," he added.

Duterte's four-day visit to Beijing came as he seeks to shift the country's alliance to China from the US. On Wednesday, he said it was time to say "goodbye" to its only treaty ally, Washington.

At least thirteen agreements were signed at the Great Hall of the People, where Duterte was given a red carpet welcome.

China vowed support for Duterte's ongoing campaign against illegal drugs, even forging a cooperation between the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and China's Narcotics Division and Security Bureau.

China also announced the lifting of the travel advisory against the Philippines.

A United Nations-backed arbitration court in July ruled in favor of the Philippines and declared that China's maritime claims had no historical basis. -- with reports from Reuters