"We need to properly handle differences through friendly consultations, enhance dialogue and cooperation on maritime issues, and make the South China Sea a sea of peace, friendship, and cooperation that truly benefits our two peoples," Xi said.
He noted that since Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte had taken office, dialogue on the issue had resumed.
"I am visiting [the Philippines] this time mainly to have in-depth discussions with President Duterte on how to elevate our all-around cooperation under new circumstances and make an overall plan for greater progress in our relationship toward a higher level… We need to deepen political mutual trust to sustain the growth of China-Philippine relations," Xi stated.
In July 2016, The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration said that there was no legal basis for China’s maritime claims in the region after a relevant request by Manila. China has refused to recognise the court’s ruling.