MANILA— Both President Rodrigo Duterte and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping "stressed the need to exert all efforts" of their respective countries to exercise restraint and work together on the disputed South China Sea, Malacañang said.
The Palace said in a statement that both state leaders, in their latest talks during a telephone summit on Friday, recognized each other's commitment to continue and extend diplomatic engagement with each other despite differences over the hotly contested waters.
The Philippines and China have overlapping claims in the South China Sea, areas believed to be rich in minerals, gas and oil deposits, and other marine resources.
"Both leaders reaffirmed the centrality of ASEAN and renewed the commitment to bring peace, progress and prosperity in the region. The two Presidents emphasized the importance of continuing discussions and concluding the Code of Conduct on the South China Sea," it said.
Besides the South China Sea issue, both presidents also discussed other concerns such as the COVID-19 pandemic, bilateral trade, the Duterte administration's "Build, Build, Build" infrastructure program, the Ukraine-Russian conflict, and climate change.
The Palace said the summit, which it described as "open, warm and positive", lasted for an hour.
Since Duterte came into power in June 2016, he has taken an accommodating stance toward Beijing's incursions in waters claimed by Manila, in exchange for promised investments from China.
Experts have warned that his foreign policy, which has largely been defined by his appeasement of Beijing, could make it harder for his successor to push back and reverse China's territorial advances in the 3.5 million square kilometer-shipping lane, through which $3 trillion worth of trade passes annually.
Since Duterte took office, Manila has filed over 230 diplomatic protests against Chinese incursions in the South China Sea.—With a report from Kyodo News