Naturally, many are beginning to ask whether Duterte, a self-described "socialist", will revamp the Philippines' foreign policy by shifting alliances towards China.
In Manila, however, opposition Congressman Teddy Baguilat of Ifugao province in the Northern Luzon highlands, urged Duterte not to take the ICC warning lightly, pointing out that in expressing alarm over such killings, it would be the "most serious worldwide condemnation of the Philippines for alleged crimes against humanity". The visit is being watched closely for signs of a change in relations between the two countries.
The strategy underlines China's push to take a bigger role in global affairs, and its need for cooperation in areas such as steel and manufacturing.
China claims almost the entire strategically vital waterway.
Since taking office, the president has threatened to cut relations with the United States.
He has also suggested that he might start courting China and Russian Federation instead.
China's official Xinhua news agency said in a commentary that the verdict had no place in negotiations, but that years of "bad blood" was giving way to "good faith".
"Duterte is putting China on the spot", De Castro said.
The US has tried to find a way to support its Southeast Asian allies, particularly the Philippines, without completely alienating Beijing.
"I will not bargain anywhere, we will continue to insist that is ours", he said, speaking in Davao City in Mindanao in the southern Philippines - the same city where he was mayor for more than 20 years.
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OTHER COUNTRIES Two other close Philippine economic and strategic partners - Australia and Japan - bagged "good" ratings from Filipinos. Put simply, over the last eight years, the Philippines has become the linchpin of US diplomatic and national security strategy in Southeast Asia.
Fishermen from the Philippines have been stopped from working in parts of the South China Sea because of territorial disagreements. In the interview, he says that in addition to loans and Beijing's help in building up its railways and economic cooperation is more important that talking about disputes.
What has happened to the swashbuckling presidential candidate who six months ago said he would personally retake the Spratly Islands from China, riding out to sea on a jet ski to plant the Philippine flag on a disputed shoal? During a speech in Brunei, Duterte said he was not "angry" with the U.S., the European Union and the United Nations for challenging his approach, but in his interview he contrasted their attitude to that of Beijing's.
The dismal outcome comes despite Duterte's praises for China and his efforts to rebuild relations between Beijing and Manila that have been strained by long-seething territorial conflicts in the South China Sea. But he said he is willing to talk about the issue.
"War would lead us nowhere", Duterte told Xinhua.
The Tourism Chief who arrived in China today will meet with investors and Chinese tour operators.
A spokesperson for China's Foreign Ministry, Hua Chunying, played down Duterte's insinuations that he would raise a controversial arbitral ruling on the South China Sea with China's leaders, saying that they expects the visit to improve ties and enhance cooperation.
"We are not interested in allowing another country to talk".
Duterte has sought to dramatically reshape his nation's foreign relations since taking office on June 30, by pivoting towards China and Russian Federation while moving away from the US. Beijing has promised to increase imports of bananas, pineapples and mangoes, and crucially to lift a travel advisory warning Chinese tourists not to visit the Philippines. Joyce Huang contributed to the report. George Grow was the editor. Write to us in the Comments Section, or visit our Facebook page.