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China Plays Up Friendship With Philippines as US Alliance Gains

China struck a cordial tone in talks with the Philippines on Thursday, seeking “friendly consultation” to settle dispute as South China Sea tensions rise and the US strengthens ties with its longstanding ally.

“We need to keep to the general direction of friendly relations between our two countries,” Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Sun Weidong said in Manila at the start of two-day diplomatic talks. China and the Philippines should “deepen comprehensive strategic cooperation” and work together towards development, he said.