China stands ready to work with the Philippines to keep bilateral relations on the right track and achieve steady and long-term development, Chinese President Xi Jinping said.

In a phone conversation on Friday with his Philippine counterpart, Rodrigo Duterte, Xi said China attaches great importance to relations with the Philippines, and supports the Philippine side in firmly upholding an independent foreign policy of peace.

Xi said China is ready to deepen friendship and mutual trust with the Philippines, and stay committed to good- friendship.

During the past few years, the two countries have witnessed a consolidation and elevation of their relations, as well as the establishment of a strategic cooperative relationship, which has brought tangible benefits to the people of both countries and positive energy to peace in the region, Xi said.

Citing a Chinese saying that “only heart-to-heart exchanges can last long”, Xi said China always honours its commitments to friends.

Xi said he is willing to keep close contact with Duterte and exchange views on matters of mutual concern.He stressed that the top priority for all countries now is to prevail over the Covid-19 pandemic at an early date and achieve economic recovery and growth.

China, he added, will continuously strengthen anti-pandemic cooperation with the Philippines, and provide as much assistance and help as it can for the Philippines’ fight against the coronavirus.

Noting that important achievements have been made in synergising the Belt & Road Initiative with the Philippines’ “Build, Build, Build” programme, Xi said China is willing to work with the Philippines to implement more cooperation projects and allow the people in both countries to benefit more from bilateral cooperation.