China welcomes Duterte's promise on sea dispute


Posted at Aug 24 2016 09:15 PM

President Rodrigo Duterte makes a "fist bump," his May presidential elections campaign gesture, with soldiers during a visit at the Capinpin military camp in Tanay, Rizal on Wednesday. Erik De Castro, Reuters

MANILA - China on Wednesday welcomed President Rodrigo Duterte's remarks that the Philippines will not raise the South China Sea issue at the upcoming Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Laos.

Duterte said on Tuesday he expected talks with China on their South China Sea dispute within a year and that he would not raise an international ruling rejecting China's claims there when he attends the regional summit next month.

Duterte said he would engage China in "diplomatic dialogue" rather than anger its officials at the summit.

"We believe the two sides have the ability and the wisdom to appropriately discuss and resolve problems and promote the return of relations to a track of healthy development and bring benefits to both countries' people. We also look forward to China and the Philippines conducting talks at an early date," Foreign Minister spokesperson Lu Kang said.

Duterte: Talks with China on sea dispute 'within the year'

An arbitration court in the Hague infuriated China in July when it ruled that China had no historical title over the South China Sea and it had breached the Philippines' sovereign rights with various actions there.

Duterte on Wednesday said Southeast Asian countries will insist on China respecting last month's ruling in the Hague even if Manila does not raise it at a summit in Laos next month.

The United States, a treaty ally of the Philippines that has been concerned about China's pursuit of territory in the South China Sea, said it welcomed efforts by rival claimants to manage and resolve differences peacefully.

Washington was a strong backer of the case the Philippines brought against China, but has sought unsuccessfully to forge a unified position among Southeast Asia countries on the issue.

China claims almost the entire South China Sea, through which about $5 trillion worth of sea-borne trade passes every year. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam have rival claims to parts of the sea.