President Rodrigo Duterte has spoken to his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping and told him that he would not allow anyone to use the Philippines for activities against China.
Duterte and Xi spoke on the telephone last Thursday to discuss cooperation in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, according to separate statements issued by Manila and Beijing.
The two leaders also talked about the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations this year.
Chinese state-run news agency Xinhua said that Duterte had vowed to Xi that “the Philippine side will always be a friend of the Chinese people and will not allow anyone to use the Philippines to engage in anti-China activities.”
Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said that the two leaders “took the occasion to review Philippines-China relations emphasizing the friendship of the two countries and the significant increase in mutual cooperation in a wide range of areas.”
Ties with China have warmed under Duterte, who temporarily set aside the maritime dispute with Beijing in the South China Sea to give way to increased trade and economic cooperation with the Asian powerhouse.
Duterte has repeatedly indicated that he would not provoke China into war over Philippine-claimed features in the South China Sea, a portion of which Manila refers to as the West Philippine Sea.
The two leaders underscored the importance of international solidarity to effectively address the pandemic’s health and socio-economic impact.
“President Duterte stressed the need for cooperation in research trials for COVID-19 vaccine and treatments. While noting China’s vaccine development program, President Duterte emphasized the imperative of making vaccines accessible and affordable to all countries, including the Philippines,” the Palace said in a statement.
Duterte welcomed Xi’s full support on ensuring supply chain connectivity particularly in critical medical supplies and equipment, promoting the free flow of goods and resuming and completing priority infrastructure cooperation projects in the Philippines.
Both leaders also discussed progress in their respective governments’ fight against COVID-19 and strategies to restart economies under the so-called “new normal.”
“The two leaders likewise reviewed Philippines-China relations, noting the value of the friendship and the significantly increasing cooperation in wide areas of mutual interest,” the Palace said.
Malacañang said the phone conversation between Duterte and Xi lasted 38 minutes./Stacy Ang