Duterte to raise South China Sea issue with Xi in Vietnam

10-Nov-2017 Intellasia | MB | 6:00 AM Print This Post

President Duterte will raise the issue on the disputed South China Sea during his bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Vietnam.

Duterte, in his pre-departure speech, said it is about time that China makes clear what it really wants to happen regarding its maritime dispute with other Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) member states.

The President flew to Da Nang, Vietnam, Wednesday afternoon for the 2017 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) meetings.

“It’s about time Asean countries, not really to confront, but to make clear to us what China really wants,”Duterte said Wednesday.

According to Duterte, while everybody was busy focusing on the threat of North Korea’s nuclear warfare, China has been busy reclaiming islands in the disputed waters.

“I suppose that I’d bring the matter because while we were focused on the dangers of North Korea I do not take it against China, he has claimed every part of it and nobody has stopped him,” he said.

Duterte said he wants to ask Xi about the stakes of China’s activities in the disputed waters and if he wants full control over the South China Sea.

“So tanungin ko lang siya (So I will just ask President Xi), what are the stakes. You want to control the passage, or do we have free passage? Unbridled, undisturbed, unmolested, while we use that small way from the Indian Ocean which is facing Palawan,” he said.

“Not because I’m so much interested as a person, but for the sake of my country and the others who have the overlapping claims,” he added, referring to Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan, and Vietnam.

Duterte said that it would have been much easier if he is only dealing with China, but noted of the other claimants.

“And that is why the truth is, if I could only confront China, or if it is China alone, then there’s no problem. But I said there are contesting countries which has overlapping jurisdictions. And if I engage China now, I will have to engage the five other,” he said.

“It would be something like a scramble there because if China concedes to one, the Philippines, it has to concede to the others,” he added.

“So it’s about time, either in the bilateral or in the plenary, I should be bringing this important matter to the surface. So that we will know when can we be safe in travelling the China expansive because they have claimed it now,” he continued.

Duterte had earlier expressed hope that China would honor its word on the South China Sea as the geopolitics in Asia depends on the disputed waters.

“Sabi niya na (He said), ‘We will not.’ And with this assurance he gave to the Foreign Secretary na hindi niya galawin (that he will not touch the South China Sea). He will not build something on the Scarborough Shoal,”Duterte said, referring to the promise of Xi.

“I just hope that you would honor it because it will change the entire geography of the world. And if war starts. I don’t know what would be the next geographical division of Asia,” he added.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque had earlier said that Duterte has opted to maintain a good relationship with China and to rely on good faith.



Category: Regional

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