China envoy visits Duterte 5 days before UN ruling
President Duterte met with Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua in Malacañang on Thursday, five days ahead of an international court’s ruling on Manila’s challenge to Beijing’s claim to almost all of the South China Sea.
Zhao went to the Palace to convey a message from Chinese President Xi Jinping congratulating Mr. Duterte on his election as the Philippines’ 16th President, according to the presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella.
Asked if the South China Sea dispute was discussed, Abella said no further information was available.
Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay was also present at the meeting.
July 12 ruling
The UN-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration will hand down its ruling on the Philippine case on July 12, with international officials and experts expecting the decision to go against China.
China has refused to take part in the arbitration and says it will not accept the court’s ruling.
Mr. Duterte on Tuesday said he was optimistic that the ruling would be in the Philippines’ favor. And if it is, he said he was willing to talk with China.
‘War’ a dirty word
“If it’s favorable to us, let’s talk. We are not prepared to go to war. War is a dirty word now, but we will proceed accordingly after we shall have the copy of the arbitral judgment,” he said.
Zhao was one of the first few diplomats with whom Mr. Duterte met after the May 9 elections, with partial returns showing him on the way to being elected President.
Zhao was also among the diplomats present at Mr. Duterte’s inauguration on June 30.