China, Philippines to start South China Sea talks - ambassador

Katrina Barker
May 17, 2017

The 2016 exercises, which Duterte had said would be "the last", featured live-fire drills, amphibious landings and a combat simulation of the re-taking of a South China Sea island from an unspecified enemy.

Ties between Manila and Beijing had strained under the administration of Mr. Duterte's predecessor, Benigno S.C. Aquino III, for challenging Beijing in a UN-backed tribunal that ruled against the Asian power's sweeping claims in the contested sea.

"So if we can get something there, with no hassle at all, why not?" the President told reporters in a press conference after his week-long visit to Cambodia, Hong Kong, and China.

He emphasized the deal would have to be "fair and balanced".

Last year, tension between Beijing and Hanoi rose after Taiwan and US officials said China had placed surface-to-air missiles on Woody Island, part of the Paracels archipelago it controls.

Mr Duterte, who took office past year, abandoned the policy of his predecessor, Benigno Aquino, to forcefully challenge Beijing in diplomatic circles and instead sought to fix bilateral relations. "Philippine bananas. The Chinese are eating Philippine bananas again and Philippine pineapples", he said.

In his meeting with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, Xi said he and the Chinese government attach great importance to China-Philippines ties and are willing to work together to dovetail the two countries' development strategies.

The Belt and Road Forum held in Beijing is a China-led initiative that hopes to strengthen global cooperation for development.

Philippine officials have said the meeting will be held Friday in southwestern China.

The White House report of the conversation noted that the United States and Philippine leaders held a "friendly conversation" discussing regional security in the Southeast Asian region, as well as the fight against the drug mafia, which was declared by Duterte in his country.

He met separately with Xi and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang after attending the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing.

Patron's statement came after the official Asean chairman's message made no mention about the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration's decision on the resource-rich South China Sea, and China's continuing reclamation and militarization activities in the disputed island.

Mr Duterte said he told Mr Xi and Mr Li that he would not raise last year's global tribunal ruling, which was filed by Mr Aquino and deeply angered China.

"China is consolidating with its strategic objectives, but I don't think China will forget those plans just because Duterte talks nice to them".

"So they're talking about certain guidelines, for example, to avoid tensions within the are, within the region", he said.

But the deal collapsed after Filipino politicians questioned its legality.

They alleged it infringed on Philippine sovereignty and accused Arroyo of treason.

Other reports by AllAboutTopnews

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