Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte 'friendly' on China visit

  • 20/10/2016
Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte arrives at a Beijing hotel (Reuters)
Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte arrives at a Beijing hotel (Reuters)

China has praised Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte for being "friendly" during his first state visit to the country.

Mr Duterte arrived in Beijing on Tuesday for a four-day trip to pave the way for what he calls a new commercial alliance with China, as the Philippines' relationship with its old ally the United States deteriorates.

China is considering giving Filipino fishermen access to disputed waters in the South China Sea, and Mr Duterte has said he will wait. The case will "take the back seat" in his talks with China, he says.

"I have to be courteous and I have to wait for your President to mention it in passing for me to respond," he said.

"It is in the broader outline of talks that we have agreed. But as a matter of courtesy, and the oriental way, we will always wait because I am a visitor. I cannot destroy the goodwill just by blurting out something."

China has welcomed the shift in tone that has added to strains between the Philippines and the United States, even as Mr Duterte has vowed not to surrender any sovereignty to Beijing.

Over the past few months Mr Duterte has insulted US President Barack Obama and the US ambassador in Manila for questioning his war on drugs, which has led to the deaths of at least 2,300 people. He told Mr Obama to "go to hell" and alluded to severing US ties.

However, after weeks of anti-American rhetoric, Mr Duterte said the Philippines would maintain its existing defence treaties and its military alliances.

China has expressed support for Mr Duterte's drug war, even as it has sparked concerns in Western capitals about extrajudicial killings.