Somber Yasay avoided China anger, expert says

Joel Guinto, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 13 2016 10:33 AM

MANILA - Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay's muted reaction to the country's victory over China in international court appeared to avoid angering its much larger rival in disputed waters, an expert on Chinese affairs said Tuesday.

Yasay's posture was consistent with President Rodrigo Duterte's pronouncement that Manila would not "flaunt or taunt" in case it wins its case on the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration, University of the Philippines Asian Center professor Aileen Baviera told reporters.

"I would read in it a concern that China would over-react especially through military means," Baviera said. "The call for self restraint was in part addressed at that."

Yasay called for "restraint and sobriety" after the Arbitral Tribunal ruled that the Philippines can exploit resources within its 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone, portions of which are held by China.

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Before Tuesday's historic decision, Yasay said the Philippines would negotiate with China for possible joint development in the South China Sea based on the ruling.

Duterte, who assumed office last June 30, had said that he wanted a "soft landing" with China after the ruling.

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