Duterte is Chinese President Xi's 'most important friend' – foreign minister

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 29) — President Rodrigo Duterte is an important ally of China and its President, Xi Jinping, Chinese state councilor and foreign affairs minister Wang Yi said on Sunday.

"Between us, we have made so many more friends. Actually President Duterte is the most respected and most important friend for President Xi Jinping and the Chinese people," Wang said during the birthday party of former Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano in Davao City.

Duterte also thanked China for everything it has done for his administration.

"We are enjoying the best of our relationship. I'd like to assure the foreign minister that the Philippines is very happy with the present trade...and the fact that you have provided livelihood at least to a lot of people," he said.

Wang was also all praises for his "good friend" Cayetano, who he says is also one of China's "best friends." He cited Cayetano's success in reviving the bilateral relations of the Philippines and China.

"In my view, when Mr. Cayetano served as the foreign secretary, one of his most important accomplishments was that he has followed the direction and instruction of President Duterte, overcome various kinds of difficulties and helped bring about a full turnaround of the bilateral relations between China and the Philippines helping to put the bilateral relations back on the right path. And in my view, he has made great success in doing his job," he said.

As a gift, Wang gave Cayetano a Chinese national team basketball jersey signed by Chinese basketball star Yao Ming.

The Chinese foreign minister arrived in the country on Sunday for his two-day official visit to the country. He will hold bilateral talks with DFA Secretary Secretary Teodoro "Teddyboy" Locsin, Jr. on Monday, to be followed by the signing of bilateral documents on law enforcement, humanitarian assistance, and infrastructure.

DFA earlier said the two officials will discuss joint exploration in the West Philippine Sea.