Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday met with former President Rodrigo Duterte, a spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry and a Reuters report said.
Xi told Duterte to continue to promote cooperation between the two countries.
"I hope you will continue to play an important role in the friendly cooperation (between China and the Philippines)," state media cited Xi as saying during a meeting at the Diaoyutai state guest-house in Beijing on Monday.
"During your tenure as president of the Philippines, you had resolutely made the strategic choice to improve relations with China in an attitude of being responsible to the people and to history," Xi told Duterte.
On Twitter, Hua Chunyung also said Xi told Duterte that he appreciated Duterte's decision to improve Philippines-China relations during his presidency.
"President Xi said he appreciates the strategic choice Mr. Duterte made to improve relations with China during his presidency and his important contributions to friendly exchanges between the two countries," Hua said.
China has always insisted on being friendly with its neighbors, which it sees as its partners, Xi said.
Last month, Duterte told domestic media that the Philippines could become a "graveyard" if it gets caught up in the tensions between China and the United States.
In commemoration of the seventh year of the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, China accused the US of "ganging up" and forcing it to accept the international court's decision that Beijing's claim to almost the entire South China Sea was groundless.
"The US ropes in allies to play up the issue each year on the anniversary of the illegal award to gang up against China and to exert pressure, and force China into accepting the award," the Chinese embassy in the Philippines had said while calling Washington the "mastermind" behind the arbitration.
In May this year, the Chinese Embassy also said that the US was dragging the Philippines into its issues with China by establishing additional military sites in the country.
It said this may “seriously harm” the Philippines’ national interests as well as regional peace and stability.
In a GMA Integrated News interview, US Ambassador to the Philippines MaryKay Carlson said she did not believe that Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) sites would serve as a “magnet” for Chinese “aggressive behavior.”
She also said that these sites would help keep people safe.
In response, the Chinese Embassy countered that the US was only using the EDCA with the Philippines for its geopolitical interests and to contain China.
The Philippines and the US reaffirmed a decades-old security alliance during a trip by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to the US in May, where he met with President Joe Biden, who said the U.S. commitment to defending its ally was "ironclad".
Washington has pledged to defend the Philippines, which allowed the US access to four additional military bases this year, angering Beijing.
Marcos also said granting US access to the bases was a defensive step that would be "useful" if China attacked democratically governed Taiwan, which China claims as part of its territory.—With a report from Reuters/NB, GMA Integrated News