Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) meets with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, August 29, 2019. /Xinhua Photo
The Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea is a pioneering undertaking in establishing rules and regulations in the water body, and China and the Philippines should be committed to promoting the adoption of the COC in 2021 or even earlier, Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Thursday during a meeting with his Philippine counterpart Rodrigo Duterte in Beijing.
Xi pointed out that China and the Philippines have always ensured effective communications on the South China Sea issue, and urged the two sides to focus on concrete cooperation and development while shelving differences and ignoring noises from non-regional forces.
Handling the South China Sea issue correctly would lay a solid foundation for bilateral relations to prosper, Xi added, calling for an expeditious completion of the COC which would demonstrate the firm and positive attitudes of China and the Philippines in jointly safeguarding peace and stability in the region.
Negotiations were formally launched in September 2013, and the first reading of a Single Draft Negotiating Text of the COC was completed ahead of schedule last month.
Xi also said bilateral ties have improved and progressed over the past three years.
The international and regional situations have undergone profound and complicated changes, Xi said, adding that peace, development, cooperation and win-win outcomes are still an irresistible trend of the times.
Xi said he is willing to work with Duterte to continue the momentum for strategic and long-lasting results and lead the development of Sino-Philippine relations, which will not only benefit the two countries and their people, but also add a positive energy to regional peace and stability.
"We should continue to align the Belt and Road Initiative with the Philippine side's development plan, and implement major cooperation projects in infrastructure construction, industrial parks, telecommunications, energy and other fields," he said.
China is willing to import more high-quality agricultural products from the Philippines and send experts to the Philippines to share relevant technology, Xi added.
On human rights and other issues, the Chinese president said Beijing will continue to firmly support Manila's efforts to safeguard national sovereignty and resist external interference.
For his part, Duterte extended his wishes on the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China, saying the country's successful development experience is worth learning from.
He also said that he treasured President Xi's friendship.
China is very important to the Philippines and bilateral relationship is crucial for generations to come, said Duterte. He added that he would like to meet with President Xi more often to strengthen communication, enhance their comprehensive strategic cooperation and achieve win-win results.
Manila hopes Beijing continue assisting its economic development and infrastructure construction and thanks China for supporting the reconstruction of earthquake-stricken areas, and counter-terrorism and drug control efforts.
On the Hong Kong issue, the Philippines fully respects China's rights of safeguarding the rule of law.
Duterte noted he would choose a cooperative rather than confrontational approach to peacefully handle the disputes in the South China Sea.
This is in the interests of all parties in the region, he added.
The Philippine side is willing to accelerate joint exploration of offshore oil and gas fields with China, Duterte said, adding that as the current coordinator of the ASEAN-China relations, the Philippines is committed to promoting the early conclusion of the COC in the South China Sea.
After the meeting, both sides announced they would set up an intergovernmental joint steering committee and a working group of relevant enterprises from the two countries on oil and gas cooperation.
The moves are aimed at promoting joint exploration of oil and gas to engineer substantial progress at an early date.
The two new organs' establishment has been realized according to multiple documents including an intergovernmental memorandum of understanding (MOU) on oil and gas development, which was inked last November.
Duterte arrived in China on Wednesday for a five-day visit.