Lorenzana: Xi assured Duterte on passage of warships
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte raised the unannounced passage of Chinese warships through Philippine waters during his visit to Beijing last week, but his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping assured him that the incidents were harmless, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said, confirming that the matter was discussed by the two leaders.
“The reply of President Xi is that international law does not require ships passing through territorial waters of another country [to secure prior clearance],” Lorenzana, who was part of the presidential delegation, said in a message to reporters on Wednesday.
He added, “(Xi) reassured President Duterte that their naval ships are not coercing or targeting the Philippines.”
Lorenzana, however, said it’s the President’s call whether to revoke his directive to the defense department requiring all foreign warships to secure clearance before passing through the country’s territorial waters.
The defense department has recorded 13 incidents of unannounced passage of Chinese warships through Philippine waters since February: nine through Sibutu Strait and four through Palawan’s Balabac Strait.
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