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Yasay’s comment on militarization misunderstood by China—Duterte

By: - Reporter / @NCorralesINQ
/ 06:30 PM February 24, 2017
Foreign Affairs Sec. Perfecto Yasay. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO/JOAN BONDOC

Foreign Affairs Sec. Perfecto Yasay. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO/JOAN BONDOC

President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday said China “misunderstood” the remarks of foreign affairs secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. regarding the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) dispute.

“Secretary Yasay was misunderstood by the Chinese government,” Duterte said during a speech delivered at the turnover of a drug rehabilitation facility in Davao del Norte.

Yasay on Thursday said China promised it would not build structures on the disputed islands, including the Panatag Shoal.

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He earlier said the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) had expressed ”grave concern” over China’s move to militarize the disputed islands.

READ: Asean worried over South China Sea militarization

Yasay’s comments had reportedly irked China, saying his statements were not consistent with the agreement between Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping during their meeting in Beijing in October 2016.

But Duterte assured China that it would not yet raise the United Nation’s arbitral tribunal ruling on the sea row.

READ: Duterte says he’ll ‘set aside’ arbitral ruling on South China Sea

“There will be a time, sa aking pagka-presidente (in my presidency) that I will raise the issue of the arbitral judgment with China, but not now,” he said.

“Let me assure everybody, and this is what I have committed to do, that we will talk as friends, we cannot go to war because we cannot afford it, and that as much as possible, the bilateral relations between the two countries would be enhanced and improved,” he added.

Duterte mentioned that China’s Secretary of Commerce postponed his trip to the Philippines who was supposed to arrive in the country this Friday.

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READ: China scraps minister’s visit to PH

“I don’t know for what reason but I said, if the reason is because of the misunderstanding, I will not deviate from my word of honor,” he said. IDL

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TAGS: misunderstanding, Perfecto Yasay, Rodrigo Duterte, South China Sea, territorial dispute, UN arbitral ruling, West Philippine Sea
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