BEIJING - China appreciated the remarks of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on the South China Sea issue and stood ready to properly resolve maritime disputes with the Philippines through friendly consultations, a Foreign Ministry spokesperson said here on Tuesday.
It was reported that President Duterte said on Monday in his annual State of the Nation Address that the Philippines would continue upholding an independent foreign policy, would not pick sides between China and the United States, would not agree to allow US troops back to military bases in the country, and would not confront China over the South China Sea. He also expressed hope for priority access once China successfully develops a COVID-19 vaccine.
In response, spokesperson Wang Wenbin told a daily news briefing that all countries are endowed with the right to uphold an independent foreign policy and to develop foreign relations based on its national interests. President Duterte's policy propositions are in keeping with the fundamental interests of the Philippines, the shared aspiration of regional countries, and the trend of the times for peace and development.
China's position on the South China Sea issue is consistent and clear. As has been proven, properly handling this issue is in the interest of both China and the Philippines and regional peace and stability, Wang said.
"We appreciate President Duterte's remarks and stand ready to properly resolve maritime disputes with the Philippines through friendly consultations to jointly safeguard peace and stability in the South China Sea and the entire region," Wang said.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, China and the Philippines have been standing together with mutual assistance, turning anti-epidemic cooperation a new highlight in bilateral relations, he said.
"The Philippines is a friendly close neighbor and we will give priority to its needs once we succeed in developing a vaccine," the spokesperson said.