“Marriage Built on Coercion”– Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte says Xi Jinping warned of war in the South China Sea if the Philippines tried to enforce an arbitration ruling and drilled for oil

By Manuel Mogato | MANILA
Reuters
Fri May 19, 2017 | 9:30am EDT
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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said on Friday Chinese counterpart China Xi Jinping had warned him there would be war if Manila tried to enforce an arbitration ruling and drill for oil in a disputed part of the South China Sea.

In remarks that could infuriate China, Duterte hit back at domestic critics who said he has gone soft on Beijing by refusing to push it to comply with an award last year by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, which ruled largely in favor of the Philippines.

Duterte said he discussed it with Xi when the two met in Beijing on Monday, and got a firm, but friendly warning.

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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said China’s leaders threatened to go to war when he told them Manila planned to drill for oil in the disputed South China Sea. © PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO DIVISION/AFP

“We intend to drill oil there, if it’s yours, well, that’s your view, but my view is, I can drill the oil, if there is some inside the bowels of the earth because it is ours,” Duterte said in a speech, recalling his conversation with Xi.

“His response to me, ‘we’re friends, we don’t want to quarrel with you, we want to maintain the presence of warm relationship, but if you force the issue, we’ll go to war.”

Duterte has long expressed his admiration for Xi and said he would raise the arbitration ruling with him eventually, but needed first to strengthen relations between the two countries, which the Philippines is hoping will yield billions of dollars in Chinese loans and infrastructure investments.

The Hague award clarifies Philippine sovereign rights in its 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone to access offshore oil and gas fields, including the Reed Bank, 85 nautical miles off its coast.

It also invalidated China’s nine-dash line claim on its maps denoting sovereignty over most of the South China Sea.

Duterte has a reputation for his candid, at times incendiary, remarks and his office typically backpeddles on his behalf and blames the media for distorting his most controversial comments.

Duterte recalled the same story about his discussion with Xi on oil exploration in a recorded television show aired moments after the speech.

He said Xi told him “do not touch it”.

He said Xi had promised that the arbitration ruling would be discussed in future, but not now.

Duterte said China did not want to bring up the arbitral ruling at a time when other claimant countries, like Vietnam, might also decide to file cases against it at the arbitration tribunal.

It was not the first time the firebrand leader has publicly discussed the content of private meetings with other world leaders.

His remarks came the same day that China and the Philippines held their first session in a two-way consultation process on the South China Sea.

They exchanged views on “the importance of appropriately handling concerns, incidents and disputes involving the South China Sea”, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement that gave few details.

(Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in Beijing; Editing by Martin Petty)

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AFP

MANILA (AFP) – 

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said Friday China’s leaders told him they were prepared to go to war over competing claims in the South China Sea.

Duterte, who met with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang in Beijing this week, said he was making the threat public in response to domestic criticism he was being too weak with China over the dispute.

“I really said it to their face. That is ours and we intend to drill oil there,” Duterte said, revealing his previously unreported plans to explore for natural resources in disputed areas.

“And they told me: ‘Well, we’re friends. We do not want to quarrel with you. We want to maintain the present warm relationship. But if you force the issue we’ll go to war.'”

The competing claims to the sea, which is believed to sit atop vast oil and gas deposits, have for decades made it one of Asia’s potential military flashpoints.

China claims most of the sea, a key waterway for global shipping, and has reclaimed disputed reefs and installed military facilities on them.

Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam and Taiwan also have overlapping claims.

An international tribunal ruled in July last year that China’s claims to most of the sea were without legal basis, in a case filed by the Philippines under Duterte’s predecessor, Benigno Aquino.

But China vowed to ignore the ruling and warned the Philippines against trying to use the verdict as leverage.

Duterte, who began his six-year term in June last year, agreed to take a soft stance with China, claiming that if he did it might lead to war.

Duterte has also sought closer ties with China to win billions of dollars of Chinese investments and loans, while loosening the Philippines’ long-standing alliance with the United States.

That change of tack earned Duterte a state visit to China in October last year, when he met with Xi.

Duterte returned to China this week to take part in a summit on a Chinese plan to expand its trade and infrastructure links around the world.

On his return to Manila on Tuesday Duterte said he was open to exploring the sea’s natural resources with China and Vietnam, but did not mention the other claimants.

Duterte also reiterated on Tuesday he had no immediate plans to pressure Beijing over the arbitral tribunal’s ruling.

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One Response to ““Marriage Built on Coercion”– Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte says Xi Jinping warned of war in the South China Sea if the Philippines tried to enforce an arbitration ruling and drilled for oil”

  1. daveyone1 Says:

    Reblogged this on World Peace Forum.

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