‘The Time has come’: Duterte to invoke Hague ruling in China visit this August
MANILA, Philippines —President Rodrigo Duterte is going to China this August to raise the 2016 Hague ruling that invalidated China’s expansive claims in the South China Sea.
“There will be a time that I will invoke the arbitral ruling. This is the time, Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a Palace briefing on Tuesday, quoting Duterte.
Panelo said Duterte would raise the ruling in a “one-on-one dialogue” with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
“He precisely said that that is pursuant to what he said the first time we visited China that there will be a time that I will raise this issue and talk about it but not now. The time has come,” the Palace official said.
Asked how Duterte would raise the issue, he said “Let’s see how it goes when he goes there.”
“It’s enough that you know that he will be raising those issues. That’s precisely his going there,” he said.
Since he assumed office in 2016, Duterte has taken a soft stance in enforcing the Hague ruling in exchange of Chinese economic perks like loans and Beijing-funded infrastructure projects.
In his previous speeches, Duterte said Xi warned him that it would mean trouble if the Philippines’ continue to press its claims in the disputed South China Sea.
What would be the assurance now that Duterte won’t kowtow to China’s demands?
“The President is always firm. There is no doubt about it,” Panelo said.
During Duterte’s fifth China visit this August, Panelo said Duterte wanted to secure a 60-40 deal on the joint exploration in the West Philippines Sea.
“I know one of them is the 60-40 [deal],” he said when asked about what Duterte wanted to achieve during his visit.
In July 2016, the Philippines sealed a historic win against China before the United Nations-backed arbitral tribunal in The Hague, which invalidated Beijing’s sweeping claims to almost all of the South China Sea.
China, however, has ignored the ruling. /muf
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