• President Rodrigo Duterte is set to visit China this October, signaling deeper trade ties with the country.

President Rodrigo Duterte is set to visit China this October, signaling deeper trade ties with the country. (Photo : Getty Images)

Analysts believe that the Philippines’ president-elect Rodrigo Duterte will promote warmer ties with China and divert the focus of both governments to matters other than the South China Sea.

Previous reports indicate Duterte's positive manner of dealing with China amid the lingering maritime conflict that the previous administration brought to an international tribunal.

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Because of this, analysts believe that the tough-talking mayor from Mindanao will be pursuing a friendship with China, especially now that he requires support from other nations to fulfill his platforms to the Filipino people.

Analysts' View of Sino-Filipino Ties

A report from the South China Morning Post features statements from some Filipino analysts who believe that Duterte will pursue friendship with the Asian giant for the benefit of his people.

"The key is that Duterte is realistic and he knows that resolving sovereignty disputes takes time," said Philippine Association for Chinese Studies president Chito Sta. Romana.

According to Romana, Duterte's projects for the archipelago appears to be his motivation in promoting a better relationship with China, despite the conflict which seems to have been worse after the Aquino administration filed an international arbitration case against the Asian giant on matters of the South China Sea.

"Duterte has a vision of building a railway in Mindanao--this [seems to be a key] driver of his approach to China," Romana explained. "His government will most likely focus on repairing frayed ties by finding a modus vivendi in the South China Sea, probably through informal agreements if not a formalized deal on joint exploitation of resources."

Meanwhile, an analyst from the other side of the spectrum believes that China may welcome Duterte's offer of exploring the contested territories together.

"Joint exploration is possible. China has always wanted joint exploration even during Aquino's term," Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' Institute of Asian-Pacific Studies professor Xu Liping stated.

On the International Ruling

While the relationship between China's leader and the Philippines' incoming president becomes warmer by the minute, there is still no guarantee that Duterte's administration would drop the case filed in the Hague.

China had previously called on the Philippine government to drop the case for the betterment of the two countries' relations.

According to Romana, Duterte is not inclined to do so though he "doesn't consider [the ruling] to be an obstacle for improving ties with China."

So far, China has maintained its position on the matter and reiterated that it will not accept nor bend to the international court's decision, which is expected to come within the month.