China elated by Pres. Duterte’s decision not to pursue visit in South China Sea

BEIJING – China has expressed elation over President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision not to pursue his plan to visit Philippine-controlled islands in the South China Sea to raise flag.

”We are glad that the Philippines choose to work with China to properly manage differences and advance cooperation, so as to deliver more benefit to our two peoples,” Chinese Foreign Ministry Affairs spokesperson Lu Kang said in a press briefing Thursday.

In a meeting with Filipino community in Riyadh Thursday, President Duterte announced that he would not celebrate Independence Day and raise Philippine flag on Pag-asa Islands on June 12 upon the request of China.

President Duterte said he valued the Philippines’ friendship with China, the world’s second largest economy.

Last week, China also asked the Philippines to properly handle South China Sea issue after President Duterte ordered the deployment of troops on unoccupied South China Sea islands.

The Philippine defense and military officials the famous Filipino leader only wanted to upgrade the existing facilities in the Philippine-controlled territories and not to occupy new islands.

”As you can see, the situation in the South China Sea has seen continued progress. China-Philippines relations also enjoy fast and sound growth,” Lu told the media.

Lu added that a good relationship between China and the Philippines “is conducive to regional peace, stability and prosperity.”

Late last year, President Duterte made a decision to temporarily shelve the maritime dispute in favor of renewed ties with China.

The Filipino leader has actually visited Beijing upon invitation of President Xi Jinping in October last year, a trip that resulted to USD24 billion worth of funding and investment pledges.

According to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, China and the Philippines had conducted the inaugural meeting of China-Philippines joint coast guard committee for maritime cooperation, during which the two sides agreed on a list of cooperation projects for 2017 through friendly consultation.

The list of cooperation includes high level visits, visits by vessels and ships, joint exercises and capacity building.

China coast guard has invited their Philippine counterpart to send a delegation to visit China at an early date.

The trade and commerce officials of the two countries are also in talks for possible construction of industrial park in the Philippines.

President Xi Jinping has invited again President Duterte to attend the Belt and Road International Cooperation Forum on May 14-15 in Beijing. Jelly Musico/