Updated 11:38 AM PHT Tue, December 20, 2016
(Reuters) — China welcomes and appreciates Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's remarks that he will set aside the arbitral ruling over the South China Sea issue, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said on Monday.
"We welcome and appreciate President Duterte's relevant remarks. We believe that President Duterte's policy on dealing with the arbitral ruling over the South China Sea issue coincides with the common interests of the two countries and their people, and shows the constantly deepening mutual trust and friendship," said Hua Chunying, the spokesperson.
Over the weekend, Duterte restated that the Philippines would not press China on the arbitral ruling over the South China Sea issue and will set it aside.
He told a news conference on Saturday that he will not impose anything on China as the politics in Southeast Asia is changing, adding that the Philippines will separate or will demand the U.S. forces to go out of the country.
After wrapping up his four-day trip to China in October, Duterte reported that his visit "signaled a turning point in history and opened formal lines of communications" between the two countries, paving the way for the resumption of the bilateral consultations, which were on hold for several years.
Hua said that since the successful visit of President Duterte, the China-Philippines ties have achieved full and sustained improvement, bilateral mutual trust enhanced, all-round pragmatic cooperation in various fields extended and progress achieved.
"China is ready to continue to work with the Philippine side, increase constantly the political mutual trust and handle properly the maritime issues so as to achieve the common development of the two countries," said Hua.