Philippine police officers conduct an "Oplan Tokhang" or house-to-house campaign on illegal drugs at an informal settlers’ community in the capital of Manila on October 6, 2016. (Photo by AFP)
The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman says his country supports the Philippines’ crackdown on illicit drugs and will cooperate with the Southeast Asian country in the war against narcotics.
"We understand and support the Philippine government's policy under President [Rodrigo] Duterte of prioritizing the fight against drug crime," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a daily news briefing on Friday.
Duterte, a former crime-busting mayor of Davao City, won the presidency in May after campaigning almost entirely on promises to wipe out drugs and crime.
Nearly 2,300 people have been killed in the campaign against drugs since it started on June 30, according to the police, of which 1,566 were drug suspects killed in security operations.
Duterte said on September 19 that he needs six more months for his ongoing war on drugs, adding that there are too many people involved in the narcotic trade and that he "cannot kill them all."
“We would need time to put everything in order. Give me a little extension, maybe of another six months,” he said.
The Filipino president plans to pay an official visit to Beijing on October 18-21 and meet with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.
"As I understand it, during President Duterte's visit to China, he will participate in relevant anti-drugs related activities. At present both countries are in close communication about this," Geng said.
"Both countries anti-narcotics departments have already begun to explore cooperation. I believe that the results will be seen very soon," the Chinese spokesperson added.
Duterte has many times urged China to do more to stem the flow of narcotics into his country.
Philippine Foreign Ministry spokesman Charles Jose also said on Friday that during his upcoming visit to Beijing, Duterte would visit China's anti-drugs agency to be acquainted with ways that the country is tackling its own narcotics problems.
"It's not final yet but I think the purpose is to, for the president to see for himself," Jose told a regular briefing, adding that Beijing supports Manila in terms of rehabilitation programs and law enforcement.
Civil rights campaigners have criticized Philippine police operations amid concerns that some of the dead suspects may have been summarily executed by the law enforcement officers.
Human Rights Watch said the nation needs an “independent” investigation into whether Duterte has had a role in extrajudicial killings.
Duterte has dismissed criticism of his drug crackdown, threatening to pull the Philippines out of the United Nations.

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