China's Xi calls for stronger ties with Philippines amid maritime row

Kyodo News

Posted at Aug 29 2019 11:54 PM | Updated as of Aug 30 2019 03:09 AM

President Rodrigo Duterte is accompanied by Chinese President Xi Jinping inside the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing prior to their bilateral meeting on August 29, 2019. Rey Baniquet, Presidential Photo

BEIJING - Chinese President Xi Jinping called Thursday for development of ties with the Philippines during his meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte, at a time when tensions between the two countries have increased over the South China Sea.

"Let's lead development of bilateral relations from a strategic and long-term perspective," Xi was quoted by China's official Xinhua News Agency as telling Duterte at their latest meeting in Beijing.

China and the Philippines have been promoting economic cooperation, but their rift over the South China Sea, where Beijing and several Southeast Asian nations have overlapping claims, has been deepening.

With China claiming sovereignty over almost the entire sea, it has rapidly built artificial islands with military infrastructure in the waters, home to some of the world's busiest shipping lanes.

Beijing also test-fired ballistic missiles in the South China Sea earlier this year.

When Duterte came to power in June 2016, his administration adopted a less confrontational stance with China to resolve the disputes in the waters. The president, however, has recently spoke out against China's assertions of its sweeping claims there.