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Xi congratulates Duterte

Chinese President Xi Jinping has offered his congratulations to Philippine President Duterte following his assumption to power in a latest sign of possible warming of relations between the two countries.

The message of the Chinese President was conveyed by Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua during his courtesy call on the President in Malacañang yesterday afternoon.

“The Chinese Ambassador made a courtesy call conveying President Xi Jin Ping’s congratulations,” Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said in a short message to the media.

Asked if the territorial dispute was discussed during the meeting, Abella said he had no further details about the courtesy call of the Chinese ambassador.

The visit of the Chinese envoy came a few days after the Philippine leader declared the government is willing to talk with China over the maritime dispute instead of waging a war.

Duterte, in his remarks before the Air Force anniversary rites in Clark, Pampanga, affirmed that he would not resort to violence, saying “war is a dirty word.”

Shortly after Duterte’s victory in the May 9 elections, the Chinese government sent a congratulatory note to the former Davao City Mayor, hoping to revive bilateral relations strained by the maritime dispute in recent years.

Xi, in a congratulatory note, said a friendly, stable, and sound China-Philippines relationship is in the fundamental interests of the two countries and their people. “We hope the two sides can work together to bring bilateral relations back on a healthy track,” the Chinese leader said. (Genalyn D. Kabiling)