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Xi extends 'warm and firm' handshake to Duterte

By An Baijie | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2016-10-20 14:17

President Xi Jinping said on Thursday that his handshake with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte was "warm and firm" despite the bilateral ties "experiencing winds and rains".

"Before this visit, you had told the Chinese media that 'I will talk with friendship, extending my hands in brotherhood', and today, I shook hands with you with similar feelings," Xi told Duterte, who is paying a state visit to China from Tuesday to Friday.

China trip is Duterte's first official visit to a foreign country outside ASEAN after becoming the president in June. The visit comes after ties between the two nations suffered a blow due to the unilateral filing of the South China Sea arbitration case by Duterte's predecessor Benigno Aquino III against China.

Mentioning that the visit is a milestone in bilateral ties, Xi said the foundation of friendly neighborhood between the two countries remains unchanged.

"We should answer the public's demand, take opportunity of this visit, push forward the China-Philippines ties back to friendship, and improve the relations comprehensively," Xi said in his opening remarks.

Duterte said his visit is of great significance that could enhance cooperation in many areas.

"This is spring time in our relationship," he told Xi. "There are many areas in which we can cooperate."

The two countries will sign a number of cooperative documents after the meeting.

The Philippine president also expressed gratitude toward the "excellent arrangement and warm hospitality".

"This is a historic visit, and presents an opportunity for relations between China and the Philippines to restart on a fresh, more positive footing," Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Tuesday.

Applauding Duterte's commitment to improving bilateral ties and voicing support for dialogue and cooperation between the two nations, Wang said the visit accords with the national interests of the Philippines and the wishes of its people.

No foreign force can stand in the way of improvements to China-Philippines relations, Wang said, adding that China's arms are open and ready for friendship and cooperation.

Ruan Zongze, executive deputy president of the China Institute of International Studies, said that the visit is expected to enhance cooperation in trade, infrastructure and drug control.

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