MANILA— Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Thursday he was willing to build a "close personal friendship" with his newly appointed Philippine counterpart Teddy Boy Locsin Jr.
Wang, in a report by Beijing's state-run Xinhua released by its embassy in Manila Friday, said he wants to foster ties with Locsin to deepen cooperation between the Philippines and China.
“I am willing to establish a good working relationship and a close personal friendship with you to further deepen strategic mutual trust and pragmatic cooperation between the two countries, keep close contacts and coordination on regional and international issues, jointly promote healthy and stable development of the bilateral ties and maintain regional peace and stability,” Wang said.
Locsin, Manila's envoy to the United Nations, was sworn in as the Philippines' top diplomat on Wednesday.
He replaces Alan Peter Cayetano, who is seeking a congressional seat in Taguig in next year's elections.
Ties between the Philippines and China have improved under President Rodrigo Duterte, who has taken a softer stance on Manila's maritime dispute with Beijing over the South China Sea in exchange for better economic ties.
China, however, has intensified its construction of artificial islands in the South China Sea as it continued to ignore the Philippines' landmark 2016 victory in an international court that invalidated its sweeping nine-dash line claim over the resource-rich waters.