Duterte defends his non-confrontational policy on sea row
President Duterte on Thursday defended before foreign government officials his non-confrontational policy with other countries over conflicting territorial claims in the South China Sea.
Speaking before an Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) forum, Mr. Duterte said the conflicting territorial claims was one of the “serious problems” that the regional alliance should resolve.
“The South China Sea is one but we are not in a hurry. And as a matter of fact, what we did was really the correct step and to avoid a confrontational talks with the almost all of the parties concerned, just ask for a limited time to solve the problem and sharing of the resources if it could be done,” the President told Asean diplomats and senior government officials at the Conrad hotel in Pasay City.
“For after all, it does not mean to say that if it is our economic, our fishpond, our private -there’s no such thing, as you can claim the international waters as your own. The economic zones provided are good and our consensus and concessions that are part of the respect for each other’s interest,” he added.
Mr. Duterte’s audience included former Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
The President noted that China had not budged on its own territorial claims over the South China Sea.
“China has stood pat on its decision. We need not go to war for that. It’s not good to add something which is already a very high-tension existing in Asia itself,” he said.
“I wish more talks to come, trade,” he added.
On July 12 last year, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague ruled that China’s claim to almost all of the South China Sea had no legal basis and that it had violated the Philippines’ sovereign rights to fish and explore resources in the West Philippine Sea—waters within Manila’s 372-kilometer exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea.
But since coming to power last year, President Duterte has tried to steer the Philippines closer to China, improving diplomatic, trade and tourism ties between the two countries.
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