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Philippines' Duterte sees Sino-Philippine ties to "bloom like a flower"

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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said on Monday that he foresees the relations between China and the Philippines to "bloom into something like a big and beautiful flower" in the coming months.

In a news conference before boarding the plane to attend the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA), Duterte vowed to enhance cooperation with China, saying the Philippines needs China "more than anything else at this time."

He likened the ties between Manila and Beijing to a blooming flower. "It's like a flower that would bloom into something big and beautiful," he said.

"The interconnectivity of our countries on all aspects of governance will come in, and we are ready to cooperate and help each other," Duterte said.

Duterte thanked China anew for its support to his administration's "Build, Build, Build" program, saying China is a very important part in that ambitious multimillion infrastructure building.

"I would say I need China more than anybody else at this time," Duterte said.

He said the Philippines' destiny is in Asia. "Asia's growth is expected to continue to rise to 2050 and account for more than half of the world's gross domestic product."

"We must therefore continue our efforts to broaden and deepen the Philippines' economic engagement and cooperation with our friends and neighbors. To make lives of our people more comfortable, we must harness the potential of shared growth in our region," Duterte said.

Duterte will also deliver a speech at the BFA, a high-level dialogue platform dedicated to promoting common development through regional integration for the Asian economy.

At the forum, Duterte said he plans to advance the Philippines' interests in trade expansion and investment promotion.

He will reiterate the Philippines' commitment to do more to attract more investment in the country, particularly in infrastructure innovation and interconnectivity.

Duterte said he is looking forward to meeting Chinese President Xi Jinping again in Boao.

Chinese President Xi Jinping will deliver a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of this year's conference, a four-day event that started Sunday under the theme of "An Open and Innovative Asia for a World of Greater Prosperity."

Proposed in 1998 by former Philippine President Fidel Ramos, former Australia Prime Ministers Bob Hawke, and former Japanese Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa, BFA was formally inaugurated on Feb. 27, 2001.

Boao, a town in China's southern Hainan province, has been the permanent venue for its annual conference since 2002.

After 17 years of development, BFA has become a high-level dialogue platform for governments, enterprises, experts, scholars and business leaders to jointly discuss the economy, society, environment, new high-tech, innovation, financial reforms, investment, trade and other issues essential to the future of Asia.

It also offers a significant platform for other countries to better understand China's diplomacy as well as China's initiatives such as the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.

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