Duterte open to talks with China, joint exploration at disputed sea
Presidential aspirant and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte will be open to a dialogue with China on our maritime dispute over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), saying he is amenable to a joint exploration on the gas-rich sea.
“If you want to talk, then let’s talk,” Duterte said during the “Go Negosyo: Meet the Presidentiables Series” in Makati City on Thursday night.
Duterte was referring to the move of China for bilateral talks without the involvement of a third party.
Duterte said he is open to bilateral talks with China as they have repeatedly said that they want bilateral talks and not multilateral negotiations.
“China does not want it (multilateral talks). China wants to talk bilateral,” he said.
The tough-talking mayor, however, assured that he would assert the maritime rights of the Philippines over the disputed territories.
“What you have built there is within our territory, it is illegal and we are protesting it,” he said, referring to the man-made structures built by China on our disputed islands.
While our maritime claims at the United Nations (UN) is ongoing, he said the country needs to engage in peaceful dialogue with China.
The maritime issue, he said, has created a “hiatus.”
“The talks are not moving and it is in still waters. China is adding structures day to day. Something has to give there,” he said.
“You (China) might just want to open this as a mutual corridor and I will be willing to talk to you. If there is oil and gas (at disputed sea), let us do joint exploration. Do not own it,” he added.
The mayor admitted that the Philippines could not go into war with China.
“We cannot defeat you. We will be pulverized if we go to war. So I will just tell them, ‘If you want to talk, let’s talk.” he said, adding that the country could not afford to wage war against China.
The Philippines has filed a series of diplomatic protests against China at the UN Tribunal on the Law of the Sea but China has repeatedly declined to participate in the arbitration. CDG
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