• Incoming President Rodrigo Duterte called Chinese leader Xi Jinping “a great president”
  • Xi Jinping wrote to Duterte to congratulate him on his election victory
  • The Chinese leader said China and the Philippines has a long history of friendly exchanges and a deep traditional friendship

Soon-to-be president Rodrigo Duterte praised China’s leader Xi Jinping and called him a great president.

Duterte heaped the praise on Jinping in response to the question asked by reporters during a press conference held at the Presidential Guest House in “Malacañang of the South” about the message sent by the Chinese leader to extend his congratulations.

“I was honored, receiving a congratulatory message from a great president, uh prime minister,” Duterte, who seemed to be unsure of the Chinese leader’s official title, said.

As noted by GMA News Online, the Chinese Foreign Ministry disclosed that Xi Jinping wrote to Duterte to congratulate him on his election victory and to say that the two countries has a long history of friendly exchanges and a deep traditional friendship.

“The friendly, stable and healthy development of Sino-Philippine relations accords with the basic interests of both countries and both peoples. Both countries had the responsibility to deepen cooperation. I hope both sides can work hard to push Sino-Philippine relations back onto a healthy development track,” Xi was quoted as saying in the ministry statement.

Duterte, in earlier pronouncements, said he is willing to hold bilateral talks with China regarding contested regions in the South China Sea (or West Philippine Sea).

While he is open to bilateral talks with the Asian power, Duterte maintained that the Philippines will not give up its territorial claims on the vital sea lane and called on the Chinese government to respect the country’s 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone.