PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte will invite Chinese President Xi Jinping to visit his home in Davao City when the Chinese leader visits the Philippines this month, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said yesterday.
Panelo said Duterte was interviewed by a group of Chinese reporters on Wednesday and was asked whether the Filipino leader would host Xi in his Davao home.
“He was asked whether he will bring Xi to his Davao home. He said, ‘of course,’” Panelo told reporters.
Xi will visit the Philippines this month after his attendance at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Papua New Guinea.
If the visit pushes through, Xi will not be the first world leader to set foot on Duterte’s humble Davao home.
Back in January 2017, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe paid a visit to Duterte’s home.
Duterte first invited Xi to visit the Philippines during his state visit to China in October 2016, something which the Chinese leader “accepted with pleasure.”
The President renewed his invitation to Xi on the sidelines of the APEC leaders’ meeting in Lima, Peru last November 2016.
Xi made his last visit to the Philippines in November 2015 to attend the APEC leaders’ meeting. The Philippine president at that time was Benigno Aquino III, who hailed China to a United Nations-backed arbitral tribunal over the South China Sea dispute and won.
Duterte has opted to downplay the Philippines’ maritime dispute with China in pursuit of improved economic ties with the world’s second-largest economy.
The President, nonetheless, said despite his government’s rapprochement with China, he will never surrender the country’s claims to the sea and will bring up at the appropriate time Manila’s arbitration victory against Beijing.