Philippines could share maritime resources with China: Duterte

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Mar 24 2017 11:51 AM

MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte said Thursday he was open to sharing resources with Beijing in flashpoint South China Sea waters over which Manila has been given exclusive rights by an international tribunal.

Beijing claims most of the sea, including waters close to the Philippine coast, despite the claim being declared as without basis last year by a United Nations-backed tribunal.

However, Duterte said the Philippines could not exploit the natural resources on its own.

"Even if I wanted to extract everything we do not have the capital. Even the (oil) rig and everything we can't afford it," Duterte told lawyers in Manila.

"I would consider sharing it."

Duterte's predecessor Benigno Aquino had challenged China's claim to control most of the South China Sea, despite counter-claims by several other nations.

The Aquino administration in 2013 filed suit at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague. The tribunal ruled in favor of Manila last year.

However Duterte, who had taken office days before the tribunal ruling, has since reversed Aquino's policy and is seeking billions of dollars of investment and grants from Beijing.

Duterte on Thursday repeated earlier pronouncements he would not go to war with China over the disputed claims.

He said he and Chinese President Xi Jinping had agreed in Beijing last year that they would look to boost faltering trade ties that had been impacted by the sea row.

He said he also told Xi Manila would put off a discussion with Beijing on the Hague-based tribunal's ruling.

However, Duterte said the two countries would have to address the issue the moment China began to extract minerals in waters over which Manila has exclusive rights to exploit under the tribunal's ruling.