DFA Chief: Chinese President Xi Jinping to visit Manila by yearend

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On the sidelines of the Boao Forum for Asia in Hainan in April, President Rodrigo Duterte met with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 8) — Chinese President Xi Jinping is slated to go to the Philippines by the end of the year, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said Tuesday.

In a press conference Tuesday, Cayetano said both parties have yet to discuss if Xi's visit will be an official or a state one.

"We are looking forward to President Xi visiting the country this year but we are still talking about specific dates. We are working as if the visit will push through. I think both sides wanted it," Cayetano said.

The foreign affairs chief came fresh off the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Singapore, where he met with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi.

This will be Xi's first visit under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, who has expressed his adoration for the Chinese leader.

"When presidents at this level meet there are a lot of preparations and a lot of things that they want to announce," Cayetano added.

In April, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque announced Xi will visit the country after the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Papua New Guinea in November.

Duterte's warmer ties with China have met criticisms from lawmakers for his alleged inaction on the West Philippine Sea dispute in exchange for stronger economic ties with the Eastern giant.

"I just simply love Xi Jinping. He understood, he understands my problem, and he's willing to help. And I would like to say thank you, China," Duterte earlier said in April, just before he met with Xi in the Boao Forum in Hainan, China.

READ: Duterte: China an 'important ingredient' in 'Build, Build, Build' program

China has refused to observe a 2016 international tribunal ruling which invalidates a nine-dash claim over the South China Sea and affirms the Philippines' sovereign rights to islands within the country's 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone.

Duterte then said we cannot go to war with China over the territorial dispute.