Premier Li and Pres Duterte boast warm relations, strong bilateral ties

World Today

Philippines’ President Rodrigo Duterte (R) shakes hands with China’s Premier Li Keqiang during Li’s one-day state visit at the Malacanang Palace in Manila on November 15, 2017. The Philippines owes China a “debt of gratitude” over a donation of arms to fight pro-Islamic State militants, President Rodrigo Duterte said on November 15, in another sign of warming ties. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / DONDI TAWATAO

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang met Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in Manila. The bilateral discussion followed a series of meetings with leaders of ASEAN. Duterte said China’s assistance was instrumental in ending the seige by militants of Marawi city, while Li pledged China’s continuous support to the country.

Li’s visit to the Philippines is the first by a Chinese premier in a decade. CGTN’s Barnaby Lo reports.

Manila gave Chinese Premier Li Keqiang the best Filipino hospitality has to offer on Tuesday. Li paid an official visit a day after the ASEAN Summit ended in the Philippine capital.

“I have come to carry forward our traditional friendship. We are close neighbors and we enjoy a long-standing friendship between our two countries,” the premier said.

That friendship was tested in recent years, when the previous Philippine government and China deadlocked on a territorial dispute. Duterte set aside the dispute in favor of economic concessions. After engaging in bilateral talks, Li and Duterte witnessed the signing of cooperation agreements. One of these was a grant from China to build bridges in Manila.

The Filipino people experience some of the heaviest volume of traffic in Manila. China will be funding the construction of a bridge that will connect traffic from one side of the river to the other. It’s expected to lighten the volume of traffic in the area.

President Duterte expressed gratitude to China, to seemingly no end, in talks with Premier Li.

“We are gratified by the so many things you’ve done so far. You have proven to be a good friend of the Philippines. And we look forward to a more robust, more productive relations in the days to come,” President Duterte said.

The response from the Chinese Premier: A vow to extend more assistance.