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China supports PHL’s fight against Maute, other Islamists in Marawi

China supports the Philippine government's "anti-terrorism" operations against Islamist militants in Marawi City, the Chinese foreign ministry said Monday, days after it was reported that US special forces provided support to Filipino troops.

On Saturday, the US Embassy in Manila said special forces were assisting the Philippine military with ongoing operations in Marawi City, which insurgents belonging to the Maute group and aided by foreign militants, laid siege on May 23.

But Philippine authorities said the assistance was limited to "technical support."

"Terrorism is the common enemy of mankind. China understands and firmly supports (Philippine President Rodrigo) Duterte's leadership and its government in fighting terrorism," Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a regular press briefing.

"We support these antiterrorism operations," he said.

Lu was asked about China's views on the assistance provided by Washington to the Philippine military.

"On the operations launched by the Philippine government on their territory, in principle, we welcome the constructive support of the international community, on the basis of the respect of the Philippine government's own will, and of the Philippines' sovereignty and territorial integrity," Lu said.

The announcement of US help in the embattled southern region of Mindanao comes after Duterte has sought to reduce the Philippines' reliance on the United States and build much closer ties with China and Russia.

Under Duterte, the Philippines has moved to ease tensions with Beijing over rival territorial claims in the South China Sea. — Agence France-Presse with GMA News