Philippines-China meeting on Chinese vessels in WPS ‘pleasant’ – Tugade
MANILA, Philippines — The presence of Chinese vessels in the West Philippine Sea were among the topics discussed in the bilateral meeting between the Philippines and China, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said on Thursday.
President Rodrigo Duterte and Tugade are in China to attend the Belt and Road Forum with other Philippine government officials.
Asked if Duterte has addressed the issue of the presence of Chinese vessels in the West Philippine Sea (WPS), Tugade said it was among the topics discussed during Duterte’s meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
“Napag-usapan naman po yan kanına sa bilateral meeting with President Xi Jinping kung saan binigyang diin ng ating Pangulo [sabi niya], ‘Tratuhin ninyo kaming isang ally at mananatili kaming isang ally sa Inyo’,” Tugade said in an interview on AM radio station DZMM.
(The issue was addressed during the bilateral meeting with President Xi Jinping where President Duterte said, “Treat us like an ally and we will remain your ally’.”]
Tugade said the meeting was pleasant, with the two nations vowing to strengthen their diplomatic ties.
“Nagkaroon po ng magandang dayalogo at usap-usapan kung saan yung nation lalong higit yung mga agreement pang-ekonomiya ay mapaigting at mapalakas,” Tugade said.
(We had a pleasant dialogue where both nations vowed to strengthen its economic agreements and ties.]
Earlier, US-based think tank Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) showed satellite images proving that Chinese vessels were spotted near the Philippine-occupied Kota (Loaita Island) and Panata (Lankiam Cay) Islands in the West Philippine Sea in March and early April.
Duterte has also called out China for building structures on Philippine-claimed reefs in the WPS but said he would stick to “talking” with Chinese leaders to avoid a military confrontation.
Duterte said he would negotiate with China and not resort to force to assert the country’s claims in the disputed waterway.
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