Manila’s ties with Beijing improving daily, says Duterte

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte talks with Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua

Manila, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday hailed the improving Philippines-China ties during a meeting with a delegation from the Communist Party of China (CPC) led by a close aide of Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Malacañang said CPC Central Committee member Meng Xiangfeng and three other CPC leaders held talks with the President. They were accompanied by Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua and Chinese Embassy counselor Sun Yi.

“The President reiterated ‘our desire and wish of the Filipino people that we make our bond stronger,’” a Malacañang statement said. “He further noted that the bond is ‘improving everyday.’”

State secrets protector

Meng was director of China’s National Administration for the Protection of State Secrets, which is in charge of archiving confidential CPC and government documents, from March 2013 to April 2015.

He was later appointed deputy chief of the General Office of the Central Committee of the CPC, making him Xi’s deputy chief of staff.

The other delegation members were Yuan Zhibing, director general of Bureau One International Department of the CPC; Lin Zhi, division chief, Personnel Bureau, CPC; and Du Dingding, division chief, Bureau One International Department.

Mr. Duterte said the CPC members were invited by his political party, the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), which was represented at the meeting by Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, the party president, and Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, the party’s vice chair.

Since taking office in July 2016, Mr. Duterte has sought to improve Philippine relations with China, which had soured because of their maritime disputes in the South China Sea.

On the same day, the President met with a delegation from Japan, another close Philippine economic partner.

Malacañang, however, gave no details of the discussions between the President and his Japanese visitors, led by Japan’s Minister for Internal Affairs and Communications Seiko Noda.

Japanese Ambassador Koji Haneda accompanied Noda’s group, which included Kenichi Imabayashi, director general, Global Strategy Bureau, Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications; Kazuaki Omori, director, Global Strategy Bureau; and Takehiro Kano, deputy chief of mission.

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