President Xi Jinping yesterday rejected the 2016 Hague ruling which invalidated China’s claims over the West Philippine Sea, despite Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s insistence that it was “final, binding and not subject to appeal.”
Duterte raised the issue during his fifth visit to China, the first time he has ever done so since he was elected president in 2016. Prior to this meeting, Duterte has been reluctant to bring up the ruling, which has led many Filipinos to believe that he had been kowtowing to the Asian superpower.
In the two leaders’ bilateral meeting in Beijing yesterday, presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said in a statement that, while Xi and Duterte hold contrary positions over the West Philippine Sea issue, “their differences need not derail nor diminish the amity between the two countries. They shared the view that the contentious issue is not the sum total of the Philippines-Chinese bilateral relationship.”
While Xi refuses to abide by the Hague ruling, he agreed that both parties should create a code of conduct that would help resolve conflicts that may occur in the area. He also proposed that a committee be created to prepare a “substantive program” on the possible joint gas exploration between China and the Philippines within the West Philippine Sea.
Earlier this month, Duterte said that he doesn’t mind sharing the West Philippine Sea’s gas resources with China as long as the Philippines gets a bigger share of the profits, reported ABS-CBN News.
The subject of the June Recto Bank boat sinking incident also came up during the two president’s meeting, with Duterte expressing “appreciation of China’s readiness to provide compensation to our fishermen who almost lost their lives,” Panelo said.
It was on Wednesday, the first day of Duterte’s China visit, when the unidentified owner of the Chinese fishing boat that sank and abandoned a Filipino-owned vessel finally apologized for the incident. In a statement that appeared on the Department of Foreign Affairs’ Twitter account, the owner of the Chinese vessel said he was willing to compensate the Filipinos who had been left to fend for themselves in the water when the Chinese ship fled the area.
Duterte will fly back to the Philippines on Sept. 2. Aside from meeting Xi, he has also spent some time cozying up to action superstar Jacky Chan who even posed with him and Senator Christopher “Bong” Go showing the signature Duterte fist bump.
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