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Duterte: No point discussing South China Sea dispute at ASEAN meeting

President Duterte said there was no point even discussing China’s actions in the South China Sea when the leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meet on Saturday.

“Who will dare pressure?” he said. “Who can pressure China? Us?”

Asked how ASEAN should deal with China, the president replied that dialogue was the only option. “The way we’re doing, talking — that’s the only luxury we have,” he said. “Action? Tell us how. Tell me. Educate me how.”

According to a draft of the chairman’s statement the ASEAN bloc will take a softer tone on China’s apparent militarisation of the disputed waters.

China claims almost all of the energy-rich South China Sea through which about $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. As well as the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims on the territory.

The competing claims over the South China Sea, also known as the West Philippine Sea

Critics accuse the president of taking a defeatist position on China and failing to defend Philippine sovereignty. He maintains that his approach is merely pragmatic, and believes that challenging China could triggering a war.

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In 2013, the previous government filed a case with the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague to confirm the contested maritime boundaries.

Last summer, the tribunal ruled in favour of the Philippines, and invalidated China’s claim to sovereignty over most of the waters. The current president has largely ignored this ruling.

He said today: “Arbitral is simply entitlement. It’s not even a territorial thing. The only question at arbitral was entitlement, not jurisdiction, not even territory.

“How will you raise the issue? We cannot on our own enforce the arbitral judgment.

“Before, China said we will not honour it, so why will you force them to honour? You’re just looking for trouble. Can we go to war?”

Instead there are plans to agree a ‘framework’ for a China-ASEAN code of conduct on the South China Sea, although there is scepticism about why this proposal now has China’s support, 15 years after the idea of drafting such a code was first mooted.

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There are some who see China’s compliance as a stalling tactic to buy time to expand and fortify its presence in the waters.

Asked about China’s sincerity towards completing the code, the president said current tensions were the fault of the US.

“Here’s how it is. They (China) really claim it as their own, even a long time ago,” he said. “The issue hasn’t really exploded until the Americans made it to be.”

Read more on the South China Sea dispute:

China launches its first domestically produced aircraft carrier

Chinese warn off Philippine planes carrying defence minister to island

China’s bare-faced denial: “Artificial islands? There are no artificial islands”

China completes military bases on three disputed South China Sea islands

Duterte blames USA for South China Sea tensions, saying their actions risk war

China denies plan to build monitoring station on disputed Scarborough Shoal

Long-range missile silos on China’s artificial islands are ‘early test’ for Trump

US Navy aircraft carrier strike group enters the South China Sea

Steve Bannon: There is “no doubt” of war with China over disputed waters

Duterte accuses USA of illegally stockpiling arms at military bases

Trump vs China: Fresh war of words over South China Sea dispute

China warns USA: Prepare for devastating war if you block us from disputed waters

Philippines wins South China Sea arbitration case at The Hague

1 Comment on "Duterte: No point discussing South China Sea dispute at ASEAN meeting"

  1. Indonesia & Malaysia are using ASEAN to criticize the demons who rule China.
    Duterte once criticized China…before they bought him.
    Now the mouth that used to roar at China is kissing Xi’s feet.

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