Ahead of China visit, Philippine leader says no sense in war


President Rodrigo Duterte speaks during a gathering of businessmen in Pasay city, Metro Manila, Philippines, October 13, 2016.  REUTERS/Erik De Castro

President Rodrigo Duterte speaks during a gathering of businessmen in Pasay city, Metro Manila, Philippines, October 13, 2016. REUTERS/Erik De Castro

By Ben Blanchard | BEIJING Mon Oct 17, 2016 | 7:15am EDT

There is no sense in going to war over the disputed South China Sea as talks are far better, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte told China’s official Xinhua news agency, praising China for not criticizing his country, unlike Western nations.

Duterte goes to China on Tuesday with at least 200 members of the Philippine business elite to pave the way for what he calls a new commercial alliance, amid deteriorating ties with longtime ally the United States.

On Sunday, Duterte said he would raise a controversial arbitral ruling on the South China Sea with China’s leaders and vowed not to surrender any sovereignty or deviate from the July award by the tribunal in the Hague.

The ruling dealt a blow to China’s extensive claims in the South China Sea. Beijing has refused to recognize the case and has chided any country telling it to abide by the ruling.

In the Xinhua interview published on Monday, Duterte said he wanted negotiation, not confrontation, over the South China Sea.

“There is no sense in going to war. There is no sense fighting over a body of water,” Duterte said.

In Brunei, Philippine Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay said the South China Sea issue was not the sum total of the relationship between China and the Philippines, but the time was not yet right to discuss resolving it.

“We still have to build up the lost trust and confidence that was weakened or eroded during the past administration,” Yasay told reporters.

“But then we should not also miss out on the opportunities for trade and economic relationship that we would need as much as China.”

Duterte also expressed gratitude to China for not criticizing his war on drugs, which has sparked concerns in Western capitals about extrajudicial killings, with Philippine police saying it has killed nearly 2,300 people.

“China never criticizes,” Duterte said in the Xinhua interview. “They help us quietly.”

The unpredictable president’s moves to engage China, just a few months after the arbitral award sparked fears in the region of a backlash by Beijing in the South China Sea, mark a striking reversal in Philippine foreign policy since he took office on June 30.

Duterte told Xinhua his grandfather is Chinese.

“It’s only China (that) can help us.”

China’s Foreign Ministry earlier sought to downplay Duterte’s Sunday remarks on the arbitration.

Asked about his comments, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Duterte would make his policy in the best interests of his country and people.

“China’s door has always been open to the Philippines, and I think you’ve also noticed that President Duterte has many times said he wants dialogue with China,” she added.

(Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

Source: Reuters “Ahead of China visit, Philippine leader says no sense in war”

Note: This is Reuters report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.

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7 Comments on “Ahead of China visit, Philippine leader says no sense in war”

  1. Simon says:

    The pretext for improve relation is because Phillipine has fallen out with America over its crack down on druggies not because Phillipines chose not to enforce the illegal PCA ruling. One must remember before teh Scarborough Shoal stand off it is already Chinese territory. The action ogf the Phillipines and teh PCA undermine Chinese soverignty and that is entirely the Phillipines own making so they cannot simply roll back on what they have done and claim concession from China as an improvement. The Chinese should be nogotiating in a position of strength and it is Duterte who is one with the begging bowl and his political future at stake here.

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  2. Simon says:

    Duterte visit is not aim at resolving the Scarborough Shoal issue. Regardless of other areas of relationship that might be improved China should not respond by offering Fillipino fishermen returning to or near the Shoal to fish otherwise it would be interpreted to the world as a Chinese concession and acceptance of the illegal PCA ruling.

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  3. johnleecan says:

    Mr. Yasay said “But then we should not also miss out on the opportunities for trade and economic relationship that we would need as much as China.”

    Philippine trade with China is not even one half the trade of Malaysia/China or Singapore/China or Indonesia/China or Thailand/China. With such a huge population in the Philippines and one of the fastest growing population in the world, their trade figures with China is not significant. Philippines is more politically important to China than economically.

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  4. alking1957 says:

    I wonder how soon before Duterte becomes a victim of “regime change” !

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  5. Joseph says:

    Gee, try to talk nicely about the sense in war to the American and any Westerners. See if they want to understand. So in this case, Duterte is correct to treat the American the way he does, in the only language the American can understand, rough talks.
    After all It is war that they want, so they can play the heroes, the peacemakers, the aid workers, even the ‘freedom fighters’ in the conflicts. All while the locals suffer the consequences. Take Syria, now that the war comes close to end with the imminent fall of Aleppo, the American shows their childish tantrums. Imagine if Japan protested and accused the American over human right violation during the American imminent invasion of Japanese-occupied Phillipines. Would they stop? And the civilian casualties caused by the American ‘liberation’ of Phillipines were staggering.
    But of course the West always keen to put forward their unimportant and unrelated PCA issue as the Reuters obviously points out. But as always, the Reuters is just a news agency, not any country’s policy maker, not even Britain. Even if Duterte would raise the PCA nonsense, he is unlike to do so in confrontational manner. All in all, the West do not get the war they want. As Duterte has said that this year Phillipines-US military exercise, this ws the last, then they can pack their bags and go home. Make conflict somewhere else.

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    • Jane says:

      “China never criticizes,” Duterte said in the Xinhua interview. “They help us quietly.”

      This reminds me of something that Sri Lanka’s foreign secretary Palitha Kohana said: “Asians don’t go around teaching each other how to behave. There are ways we deal with each other – perhaps a quiet word, but not wagging the finger.”

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