Beijing—Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte arrived in Beijing Tuesday evening, beginning his four-day visit to China.
Choosing China as the first country outside the ASEAN since taking office in June, Duterte makes the visit amid a backdrop of deteriorating China-Philippines ties, due to the unilateral filing of the South China Sea arbitration case initiated by his predecessor Benigno Aquino III against China.
Duterte will meet his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, Premier Li Keqiang, and top legislator Zhang Dejiang, according to China’s Foreign Ministry.
“This is a historic visit, and presents an opportunity for relations between China and the Philippines to restart on a fresh, more positive footing,” said Foreign Minister Wang Yi earlier 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.
The upcoming meetings are expected to enhance cooperation in trade, infrastructure and drug control, said Ruan Zongze, executive deputy president of the China Institute of International Studies.
Though the anticipated visit will not be able to wipe the slate clean, it is a “window of opportunity” that may ameliorate the situation, as long as the two sides agree to shelve their differences and get back to consensus through dialogue, Ruan said.