Yasay’s comment on militarization misunderstood by China—Duterte
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.
He earlier said the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) had expressed ”grave concern” over China’s move to militarize the disputed islands.
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.
“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.
“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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