Published: Wed, May 24, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Won't enter into a conflict with China, says Philippine President Duterte

Won't enter into a conflict with China, says Philippine President Duterte

The President is in Russian Federation for a four-day visit as he recalibrates his foreign policy toward China and Russian Federation and away from the United States.

Since the world arbitration court said in July that Beijing lacked a legal basis for claiming much of the South China Sea, Chinese officials have sought one-on-one talks with the other claimant countries to work out differences. "He was telling me, you know they go back 8,000 years, we have 1776 is like modern history", Trump said.

A framework agreement between China and the Association of Southeast Asia Nations on a code of conduct in the South China Sea marks a potentially significant step toward cooling tensions in the strategic waterway, analysts said Friday.

"Being the first Southeast Asian leader to visit Washington, the Vietnamese prime minister will want to explore US plans and goals for engagement with the larger Southeast Asian region", said Murray Hiebert, senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank in Washington.

Duterte's critics have made much of his refusal to push China to comply with a ruling past year by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague, at the end of a case brought by the Philippines against China, which was largely in favor of the Philippines.

China continues to worry Southeast Asian countries by sending coast guard vessels through their exclusive economic zones in the 3.5-million-square-kilometer sea and building artificial islets ready for radar systems and combat aircraft.

On the other hand, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said that China's threat was a "serious case" that should not be taken lightly.

Alexei Fenenko, an expert at the global relations department at Moscow State University, suggested that a conflict like the one mentioned by Duterte is possible. But China has long prioritized the stability of the Korean Peninsula over its denuclearization, and those preferences will not change.

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Vietnam wants stronger US backing to offset a growing yet uncomfortable trade and economic relationship with old foe China, experts believe. "Pending final settlement, we advocate shelving the dispute for common development", Hua said. At the same time, he stressed that the Philippines has turned away from its previous pro-American foreign policy.

Earlier this week, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte expressed his openness to conducting joint explorations in the South China Sea with rival claimants China and Vietnam.

In the interview Duterte could have indicated that Manila expects protection from Washington in the event of a military conflict because the sides have a mutual defense agreement.

"I guess they have a clear understanding of the situation". "[Duterte] can not simply do nothing, or worse acquiesce to China's action - for inaction is the opposite of protecting the Philippines' EEZ". "Manila can not afford engaging in a direct military confrontation", Panarina pointed out.

Duterte's opponents say his overtures to China have undermined the Philippines's territorial claims and left the country with little room to maneuver.

According to Hontiveros, Chinese President Xi Jingping's threat of war against the Philippines over the West Philippine Sea must be met with the strongest diplomatic protest from the Philippine government. Duterte's statement is important because he told advocates of a hardline policy that the Philippines does not have the potential for a war with China. "And I have ordered the armed forces to occupy all - these so many islands, I think nine or 10 - [to] put in structures and the Philippine flag".

Duterte made no mention of the issue during an unusually news briefing on Monday before he left for Russian Federation.

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