DUTERTE, XI WANT CODE OF CONDUCT IN SOUTH CHINA SEA FAST-TRACKED

duterte xiPresidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said that President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese President Xi have agreed that the Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea should be completed immediately.

 

“Acknowledging the importance of a COC in the South China Sea to regional peace and stability, the two Presidents expressed determination to fast track negotiations for the conclusion of an effective and substantive COC at the soonest possible time,” said Panelo.

Duterte returned to Manila on Sunday from his fifth visit to Beijing after holding “productive” and “candid” bilateral talks with Xi in Beijing on several issues including the disputed West Philippine Sea.

In a statement, Panelo said that “Presidents Duterte and Xi had candid ad open exchange of views on the South China Sea/West Philippine Sea, including the Arbitral Award which the Philippines won in 2016,” the statement read.

But Panelo said that Xi will not recognize the arbitral ruling but China will avoid “provocative acts” in the contested waters.

Panelo also bared that Duterte will no longer raise the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in future meetings with the Chinese leader. The PCA rejected China’s claim on the West Philippine Sea.

He said despite contrasting views on the arbitral ruling, the two leaders understood that this should not hinder their cooperation in areas of economy and security.

An arrival statement from Malacañang enumerated the accomplishments made during Duterte’s fifth visit to Beijing, which kicked off with a bilateral meeting between the two leaders at the Diaoyutai Guest House on August 29.

Duterte and Xi reaffirmed the longstanding friendship between the Philippines and China and renewed their commitment to further enhance their Comprehensive Strategic Cooperation.

As promised, Duterte invoked the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) ruling rejecting China’s claim on the West Philippine Sea. However, Xi was firm in his stand that China will not recognize it.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and People’s Republic of China President Xi Jinping witness the exchange of signed agreements between Bureau of Customs Commissioner Rey Guerrero and Minister of Commerce Zhong Shan following the successful bilateral meeting at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing on August 29, 2019. (Presidential Photo)

Duterte expressed the Philippines’ commitment to enhance Asean’s engagement with China in its stewardship of the Asean-China Dialogue.

During his meeting with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, Duterte also reiterated the Philippines’ resolve to expand economic ties and people-to-people exchanges with China and stressed the need to complete infrastructure projects with China with favorable financing arrangements.

Li, for his part, assured that China is ready to step up cooperation in support of the Duterte administration’s “Build, Build, Build” program.

Aside from meeting top Chinese leaders, Duterte also met with Chinese and Filipino investors, including key business leaders in the Philippine construction industry, during the Philippines-China Business Forum organized by the Department of Trade and Industry.

There were six agreements signed during the visit, covering cooperation in the areas of education, science and technology, finance, and customs, among others.

To cap his visit to China, Duterte graced in Beijing the opening ceremony of the 2019 FIBA Basketball Word Cup and travelled to Guangdong to watch the game of Gilas Pilipinas against Italy at the Foshan International Sports and Cultural Center in Foshan City.

Duterte came as a special guest of President Xi, the only foreign leader invited to the event.

He was welcomed by Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan and the top political leaders of the province in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province.

Panelo said although Gilas absorbed a lopsided 108-62 defeat at the hands of the “taller, bigger, shiftier and sharp-shooting” Italian opponents, the Philippines displayed “flashes of brilliance” that is worthy of praise.

“It’s not always winning that counts; it is how the game is played. Our Filipino players honorably competed with grit and passion today, and for that they deserve our admiration,” Panelo said. (with PNA report)

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