Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping attend a signing ceremony on Oct. 20, 2016, in Beijing, China. (Photo : Getty Images)
With 2017 as the 50th founding anniversary of the ASEAN and the China-ASEAN year of tourism cooperation, China expressed its support for the Philippines in executing its role as the current rotating chair of the ASEAN.
The Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson also expressed China's high hopes in deepening its diplomatic relations with the member countries.
"The Chinese government always regards ASEAN as the priority of its neighborhood diplomacy," said foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang.
China is planning to work with the ASEAN to enhance communication on policies; alignment of strategies and practical cooperation; and to deepen all-around cooperation that covers trade, connectivity, and production capacity.
It also plans to fully implement the third Five-Year Action Plan of the strategic partnership with the ASEAN and to materialize the outcomes of the upgraded China-ASEAN free trade area.
During the 25th anniversary of the dialogue relationship between China and the ASEAN last Sept. 2016, Premier Li Keqiang and the leaders of the ASEAN member countries agreed to upgrade and elevate China-ASEAN cooperation, fully demonstrating the determination of China and ASEAN countries to consolidate mutual trust and highlight cooperation.
The relations between the Philippines and China were under tension due to the maritime dispute over the South China Sea up until current Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte came to power.
But it's not just the two countries who are claiming ownership over the resource-rich area. Other claimant countries include Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.
Despite both countries still asserting their claim, Philippine Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Enrique Manalo told the press that the dispute over the South China Sea will not be included on the agenda of this year's Southeast Asian summit.
As China expresses its high hopes for deepening its relations and cooperation with the ASEAN, the rest of the world will continue to keep a close eye on the implementation and developments of this partnership.