Duterte to relay South China Sea concerns to Xi

Gladys Abbott
November 12, 2017

He said the "best way" is to have a code of conduct in the South China Sea. "I have to tell the truth that everybody is anxious", Mr Duterte said at a news briefing on Thursday (Nov 9) on the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) meeting in Danang, Vietnam.

Although the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague ruled in favor of the Philippines in July a year ago by invalidating China's claims in the South China Sea, Duterte has chosen to set aside the ruling to cultivate closer ties to its giant neighbor.

China has built seven artificial islands, installing radar and anti-aircraft guns and missiles on several. "There are batteries. Meaning, the arms are poised to fly", he said. "So it puts (us) in a wary - anxious and wary - because we are also using the passage", Duterte said.

China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which includes four governments involved in the sea feud, agreed earlier this year on a framework for a long-proposed nonaggression pact in the disputed waters.

They are expected to start work on the code of conduct itself.

So, it is not wrong for me to tell China, 'Look, you already place heavy artillery there. China was there when we needed most of their help. "They (China) saw it and they complained, so we had to pull out", Lorenzana said.

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In a report, released jointly by the Senate and House armed services, the lawmakers noted that the consistent exercise of freedom of navigation operations and overflights by U.S. naval and air forces throughout the world plays a critical role in safeguarding the freedom of the seas, supporting worldwide law, and ensuring the continued safe passage and promotion of global commerce and trade.

The president added that during the meeting with Xi, he would be frank and will assert the country's rights in discoursing over the maritime dispute.

The dispute over a string of sandbars called Sandy Cay emerged in August and prompted China and the Philippines to consider negotiating some sort of arrangement to prevent such incidents from spiraling out of control, Lorenzana said. "Now, he (Xi) said they will not build anything in the Scarborough Shoal".

Although the president pointed out that it not good to confront China over the nautical conflict, he said he wants those questions answered "for the sake of my country and the others who have overlapping claims".

The report released on Thursday said that China was undermining regional security and prosperity and challenging global rules and norms by engaging in coercive activities and attempting to limit lawful activities in the South China Sea.

Of particular interest is the Scarborough Shoal, which is claimed by both the Philippines and China.

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