Philippine FM Starts Damage Control With China

Posted May 26, 2017

Philippines' outspoken President Rodrigo Duterte claimed on Friday week that the Chinese President Xi Jinping has threatened him with a war against his plans to go for drilling in the South China Sea, which is nearly entirely claimed by China.

On 19 May, the outspoken Filipino president said during a televised speech that he raised the South China Sea issue and Manila's arbitral victory with Xi.

"The conversation was very frank".

Mr 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 favour of the Philippines.

"The Philippines can create an alliance with Russian Federation and China by joining or cooperating with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and its Regional Antiterrorism Structure", Perendzhiev said.

He added: "I will not contradict the president's words. I am just telling interpretation: there was no bullying or pushing around, it was not a threat", Cayetano added.

"We are committed to resolving the dispute with parties directly concerned, including the Philippines, through dialogue and negotiation", Hua said.

Relations between China and the Philippines have warmed considerably since Duterte came to power a year ago as he has courted Chinese investment and distanced his country from traditional ally the United States. And when Duterte asked what that was, Xi reportedly said: "We will go to war".

Duterte said last week one of the top priorities of his trip to Russian Federation was to secure precision-guided bombs to use on Islamic militants in the southern Philippines.

The trip will also be personal for Duterte, who has described Russian President Vladimir Putin as his "favourite hero" and proclaimed a bond because of mutual passions such as guns and hunting.

"We will fight you", Duterte on Friday quoted Xi as saying.

"If they can spare us with the precision guided (bombs)". "But if you force the issue, we'll go to war".

The shift occurred as China has become more assertive in challenging US might in the region by expanding its presence in the South China Sea, which it claims nearly in its entirety.

Duterte's trip to Russian Federation is part of his "independent foreign policy" that has seen him shifting away from the United States, the Philippines' longtime ally, which he has accused of hypocrisy and of meddling in his country's affairs for criticizing his bloody war on drugs.

The next discussion will be held in the Philippines in the second half of the year.

Philippine Ambassador to China Chito Sta. "It's the only way", he said in Beijing.

The trip is at the invitation of Putin, whom Duterte met in Peru in November on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific leaders' summit. Still, Ongpin said he believes the Philippine leader's approach toward the world's second-biggest economy is moving in right direction. "And of late, I see a lot of these Western nations bullying small nations", Duterte told Putin then.

Agreements to be signed during the visit include those on defense cooperation, military and technical cooperation, a treaty on mutual legal assistance in criminal matters, an extradition treaty, and a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in the field of security between the two countries' national security councils.

Duterte declared martial rule for 60 days in the entire southern Mindanao region, the restive third of the Philippine archipelago, Tuesday evening to try to crush Muslim extremists who have aligned themselves with the Islamic State group and occupied a hospital, jail and other buildings and battled troops in an audacious attack in Marawi City. The case was brought to the tribunal in The Hague by the previous Philippine government.

Duterte said he told Xi in talks last week in China, "My view is that I can drill the oil if there is some inside the bowels of the Earth because it is ours".