LIMA - (2nd UPDATE) President Duterte vowed Sunday to cooperate with China as he asked the regional superpower and emerging close ally to "lead the way in the economic development" of Asia.
Meeting on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders' meeting in the Peruvian capital, Duterte also invited Chinese Xi Jinping to visit the Philippines at a mutually agreeable date.
"We would be happy to see you in my country," Duterte said, as he thanked Xi for the "warm hospitality and excellent arrangements" during the Philippine leader's state visit to China in October.
"And as I have given you my word, we will cooperate with you. And I said, with my thrust of an independent foreign policy, we will find ourselves mutually agreeing on so many things and align our foreign policy towards the development of Asia, strengthening of ties among countries in the region, with China leading the way in the economic development," Duterte told the Chinese leader.
Duterte did not elaborate on what kind of cooperation he was pledging to China.
Recently, however, China's commerce ministry said the two countries are discussing the possibility of establishing an economic cooperation zone in the Philippines, to include expansion of Chinese imports especially agricultural products, and investments in the Philippines.
A translation of Xi's remarks during his meeting with Duterte was not readily available.
Duterte's 4-day state visit to China last month signaled a fresh start in bilateral relations that had been strained by their maritime dispute in the South China Sea. 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.
After Duterte's state visit, Filipino fishermen were given access by the Chinese Coast Guard to Scarborough Shoal off Zambales province, a traditional and rich fishing ground of Filipino fishermen.