President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday joked that China seems to want to make the Philippines its province.
“Ang China naman talaga oh. Gusto tayong gawin na probinsya nila,” he said.
Duterte said this as he highlighted the number of investments that China has pledged to the Philippines, including the construction of bridges at Pasig River.
Philippines-China relations, which were strained by the South China Sea dispute during the previous administration, have greatly improved since Duterte took office.
Duterte has chosen not to antagonize China over the dispute, in exchange for more vibrant economic ties.
The president recently drew flak for his weak response to reports that China was planning to build on Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea, a rocky outcrop 124 nautical miles off Zambales.
China, however, has belied the reports.