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Duterte not ‘trading away too much, too soon’ with China – Roque

/ 07:00 AM February 20, 2018
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque (File photo by JOAN BONDOC / Philippine Daily Inquirer)

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque (File photo by JOAN BONDOC / Philippine Daily Inquirer)

China is not getting more than the Philippines in the rekindled friendship between the two countries, amid a maritime law expert’s warning that the Duterte administration has been too quick to acquiesce to Beijing, Malacañang said on Monday.

“The Duterte administration has certainly not given up too much, too early, too soon in its relation with China, nor has China gained more than us,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in a press briefing.

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“On the contrary, we have upheld our national interests and produced tangible benefits for our people in pursuing friendly and mutually beneficial ties with China,” he added.

Jay Batongbacal, director of the University of the Philippines Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea, earlier warned that the country was “trading away too much, too early and too soon in dealing with China.”

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Batongbacal noted that none of China’s promised projects had materialized, while the Philippines had allowed China to freely fish in the West Philippine Sea and had not even raised a cry over the presence of its military or coast guard there.

But according to Roque, there is now “peace in the region” and Filipino fisherfolk have been able to fish in the disputed Scarborough Shoal.

The number of Chinese tourists to the Philippines has also increased, along with investments from China, he said.

Roque also downplayed China’s naming of features in the Philippine Rise, an undersea plateau off Aurora province, which forms part of the Philippines’ extended continental shelf.

Roque had said that the Philippines was objecting to the Chinese names, but found no bad faith in Beijing’s action because the process involved was scientific and not political.

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TAGS: Benham Rise, China-Philippines relations, Harry Roque, maritime dispute, Philippine Rise, South China Sea, West Philippine Sea
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