Duterte says China misunderstood Philippine minister’s South China Sea remarks

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte announces the disbandment of police operations against illegal drugs at the Malacanang palace in Manila, Philippines early January 30, 2017.     REUTERS/Ezra Acayan

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte announces the disbandment of police operations against illegal drugs at the Malacanang palace in Manila, Philippines early January 30, 2017. REUTERS/Ezra Acayan

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said on Friday he was not sure why China’s commerce minister had canceled a trip to his country, and that Beijing misunderstood his foreign minister’s comments about its militarization in the South China Sea.

Duterte said he wanted solid ties with China and there was no urgency in pressing it to abide by last year’s arbitration ruling on the Philippines’ maritime boundaries and sovereign rights, which went in favor of Manila and infuriated Beijing.

On Tuesday, Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay, the chairman of a meeting of foreign ministers of the Association of South East Asian Nations, said the region had “grave concerns” about China putting weapons installations on its manmade islands in the Spratlys.

“The problem is I think Secretary Yasay was misunderstood by the Chinese government,” Duterte said in a speech.

“I would like to assure China, and this is what I had committed to do when I was there, that we will talk as friends,” he said, referring to a trip he made to China last year.

China’s Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng decided at the last minute to postpone an official trip on Thursday to the Philippines to sign about 40 joint projects worth billions of dollars. No reason was given by either side.

However, on Friday, the Chinese government announced the appointment of a new trade minister to replace Gao, as part of a reshuffle ahead of a crucial Communist Party meeting later this year.

Establishing better relations with China has been a key plank of Duterte’s sometimes perplexing foreign policy, which has seen him lash out at major donors and investors such as the United States and European Union.

He is keen to tap China for loans, tourists and infrastructure.

On Friday Duterte said the Philippines’ longstanding alliance with the United States did not make it “duty bound to follow” Washington’s foreign policy, and conflict with Beijing was not an option.

“We cannot go to war because we cannot afford it,” he said. “And as much as possible, the bilateral relations between the two countries would be enhanced and improved and trade and commerce between the two countries greatly improved.”

But that could be affected by Yasay’s comments that ASEAN members were “unanimous in their expression of concern” about “very unsettling” developments. He mentioned China by name, something the 10-nation grouping is often reluctant to do.

China’s foreign ministry spokesman, Geng Shuang, on Thursday told a regular briefing that Yasay’s remarks were “baffling and regrettable”, and he hoped Yasay would “speak and act cautiously”.

(Reporting by Martin Petty and Neil Jerome Morales; Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in Beijing; Editing by Robert Birsel and Clarence Fernandez)

Source: Reuters “Duterte says China misunderstood Philippine minister’s South China Sea remarks”

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


5 Comments on “Duterte says China misunderstood Philippine minister’s South China Sea remarks”

  1. Joseph says:

    I wonder why Duterte bothers to keep an Obama-Aquino relic. It is obviously embarrassing to have a foreign minister with US citizenship. These US boot-lickers would do anything to prove their allegiance to the US. Duterte should learn from Indonesia that keeping US sympathizers, even for the benign purpose to exploit their expertise, will only bring trouble. In the past, Indonesian Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti who has US Green Card and American husbands, also made similar stunt to offend China to please her American master in defiance to Indonesian neutral position in American SCS row. In the Indonesian government considered her attitute far outweigh her usefulness and dealt with her rather harsly for her insubordination. Duterte should deal with Yasay harshly too, sack him if necessary. He put his American smooching above the interest of his nation, and it will cost Phillipines standing in the ASEAN dearly. With the Philippines joins the rest of the ASEAN to reject the American, ASEAN is finally united. What purpose does it serve for Yasay to try to divide ASEAN again if not for the American? Is it because the Carl Vinson battlegroup cannot use Philippines as as base? It is very expensive to send a carrier battlegroup to SCS from Japan or Guam.


    • Steve says:

      Agree – Yasay’s mouth lacks perfecto. Duterte should not have appointed a dual citizen holder. Imagine Obama has an African and US citizenship. Just wondered what other nationality would name the son perfecto.


  2. Steve says:

    Promises are not commandments, vows nor contractual obligations. As long as China controls the handle and trigger, Huangyan Island will remain China’s sovereignty. Should any future Philippines govt. including the Duterte administration wish to challenge China’s ownership the word promise vaporises into thin air.


  3. Mad Max says:

    Perfecto Yasay is a racist Sinophobe in reality. He is an American fifth column; A American lover, and when two years are passed, his corrupt character will begin to move. Meantime, it’s all a charade, a staged movie, to hypocritically kiss up Mr Duterte in order to maintain his privileged political position accorded him by a trusting Mr Duterte. Unfotunately, now and then he let slip his true colours.

    Or is it?

    Perhaps it was deliberate. This was too good an opportunity to miss. Rub Beijing’s nose in the mud in continuation of that conniving colonialist America lover Alberto Del Rosa and businessman Benigno Aquino’s previous policy of toadying to American Imperial hegemon and China containment policy. With ASEAN’s apparent “unanimous” expression of concern at the “militarization” of the Spratly islands, this was a opportunistic vehicle, Yasay could use as a camouflage to take pot shots at China.

    No question about it. Two-headed Yasay is a American CIA asset; A continued pro American presence in the Philippines and in East Asia. This is a man you cannot trust. There has been enough miscues to reveal his true colours. My sympathy to Mr Duterte and the Filipino people. You have another bad leader, a snake, up there within Duterte’s Administration.


  4. Simon says:

    I don’t completely trust Duterte. He had not done anything he promise to do such as severing relations with America all the while he got benefits from China in trade, loans and fishing rights. Clearly what he says and what he does are two entirely different thing. His foreign minister is expressing Duterte’s foreign policy and that his country remains critical towards China more so than other members of ASEAN. If he does not support the view of Perfecto Yasay he should replace him but Dutert does not.

    China should suspend its loans to the Philipines and expell thier fishermen from Scarborogh Shoal until Duterte act on its words for better ties with China.