Chinese official tells Duterte: We don’t want to lose lives over water
By: Xave Gregorio
President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday (Nov. 15) shared an exchange with an unnamed Chinese official who told him Beijing would not want lives lost over the West Philippine Sea.
“We do not want to lose a single life just because we are quarrelling over a vast expanse of water,” Duterte said, quoting the Chinese official whose identity he refused to disclose.
The remark comes in the heels of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China agreeing to start talks on the Code of Conduct in the West Philippine Sea.
“China said, ‘Do not just hurry up. But we will consider really fast tracking this Code of Conduct,’” Duterte said.
Duterte explained that only a Code of Conduct which binds all claimants to the West Philippine Sea would be an effective solution to disputes.
The Philippine president said bilateral talks would be ineffective as it only binds two countries, while leaving other countries with overlapping claims.
“by the time you have resolved the dispute, there’s other claimants and you… I said, you cannot bind them they were not parties interest,” he said.
“Ganun eh. Hindi natin matapos kung sabihn mo puntahan mo ‘yung China. Give them a copy of the arbitral ruling. It does not end there,” he added.
However, Duterte said he will have to bring up the arbitral ruling to China within his term.
“But as of now, we are not ready to fight,” he said.
The United Nations Arbitral Tribunal ruled in July 2016 that the Philippines has exclusive sovereign rights over the West Philippine Sea and declared China’s nine-dash line invalid.
However, Beijing still does not recognize the ruling of the arbitral court.