Chinese President Xi Jinping and Philippine President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, during the first's Philippine Visit
 

Beijing. Chinese President Xi Jinping and visiting Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday witnessed the signing of a series of cooperative agreements, with experts hailing it as signals of bilateral relations remain on a honeymoon with cooperation expanding to non-traditional areas.

“At present, the international and regional situations are undergoing profound and complex changes. However, peace, development, cooperation and mutual benefit are still an irresistible trend of the times,” said Xi, reported the Xinhua News Agency.

Xi said he is willing to work with Duterte to continue to grasp the trend of the times from a strategic and long-term perspective, to lead the sound development of bilateral ties.

“This will not only benefit the two countries and their peoples, but will also add positive energy to regional peace and stability,” he said.

Duterte said during the meeting that he proposed a non-confrontational and cooperative method to solve the South China Sea issue as regional stability and cooperation is beneficial to all parties in the region.

Philippines is willing to accelerate the joint oil and gas development with China, and as the coordinator of ASEAN-China dialogue relations, the Philippines will work with all parties to achieve the code of conduct on the South China Sea as soon as possible, said Duterte.

The two sides also announced the establishment of an intergovernmental guiding committee for oil and gas cooperation and an inter-firm working group to promote substantial progress in joint development.

Xi and Duterte will together attend the opening ceremony of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 on Friday. Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan will accompany Duterte to the opening game on Saturday, according to China’s Foreign Ministry.

Considering China‘s tradition of sports diplomacy, inviting Duterte to watch a basketball game shows China’s sincerity, courtesy and helps build deeper mutual trust, analysts said.

“It is an important signal for enhancing communication between the two countries in sports and culture, ” Ge Hongliang, a professor with the Center of China-ASEAN Maritime Security Studies of Guangxi University of Nationalities, told the Global Times on Thursday.

Tang Qifang, an associate research fellow at the China Institute of International Studies, told the Global Times on Thursday that China and the Philippines have increased cooperation in non-traditional fields, such as cracking down on transnational crime, human trafficking, illegal labor and marriage.

This is Duterte’s second visit to China within five months and comes at a time when he faces increasing domestic pressure to apply a tougher stance on the South China Sea issue.

A collision between Chinese and Philippine fishing vessels in June in the South China Sea triggered a wave of protests against China in the Southeast Asian country, especially from pro-US groups.

Duterte arrived at Beijing on Wednesday, the same day a US missile destroyer trespassed in the South China Sea. Ge noted that Duterte’s trip to China shows the two countries’ positive interactions will not be affected by third-party hype.

(In association with Global Times)