Duterte not satisfied with Xi response on SCS

Alexis Romero - The Philippine Star
Duterte not satisfied with Xi response on SCS
Renato de Castro, professor of international studies at De La Salle University, described as “superficial” the way Duterte “apologetically” raised the arbitral ruling during his recent meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Ted Aljibe / AFP

MANILA, Philippines — President Duterte yesterday admitted he was not satisfied with Chinese President Xi Jinping’s response when he raised the landmark arbital ruling on the South China Sea during their meeting in Beijing last week. 

Speaking to reporters, Duterte said he asked Xi how they can talk and solve the maritime dispute peacefully. 

“He (Xi) said, ‘You know, our statement was we will not budge.’ We do not want to talk about that. We own the property. Why should we talk to you? It was like that. But almost in whisper,” the President said. 

“I said it would remain a problem. It will be a, you know, thorn. Just like a sore thumb that sticks out painfully everyday,” he added. 

Duterte said Xi shifted to another topic after hearing his reply. 

“Out of courtesy, I said, ‘I will not maybe insist on your answer now. I am not satisfied with your answer but I will not ask for any other answer. I’ll just remain where I am, where I started, considering that you are under stress by the incidents in Hong Kong,” the President said, referring to the unrest at the Chinese special administrative region. 

“They have a problem. So they may be grumpy. Your timing should be right. The art of diplomacy, you play your cards,” he added. 

‘Assert arbitral court ruling’

Maritime experts said the President should not stop asserting the 2016 arbitral court ruling that favored the Philippines’ position on the South China Sea dispute over China’s.

Renato de Castro, professor of international studies at De La Salle University, described as “superficial” the way Duterte “apologetically” raised the arbitral ruling during his recent meeting with Xi.

“What’s the point of basically raising it, expecting that it will be rejected, then saying it will be the last time that it would be raised? That’s simply going through the motion,” he said in an interview with The Chiefs aired on Cignal TV’s One News on Tuesday night.

“We should continue asserting it… You would continue repeating it whether the other side would object to it or not. What we did was basically say this is the last, so we lost in that game,” he added.

Asserting the arbitral ruling, he said, should be done the same way as the Chinese were asserting the Shanghai Communiqué for the United States to acknowledge the one-China policy.

Jay Batongbacal, director of the University of the Philippines Institute for Maritime Affairs and the Law of the Sea, said the statement of Malacañang that it would no longer raise the ruling would not be helpful to the Philippine position and to international law in general.

“The statement of the Palace that it essentially has already done its job by raising the arbitration as promised by the President, that really runs counter to the whole idea of the arbitration basically being part of the international law already as they say,” he said in the same program.

“If it is really part of international law, then they should be raising it every time it is relevant,” he added.

Batongbacal stressed that the issue should be asserted whenever relevant issue or activity arises between the two countries. – With Janvic Mateo, Pia Lee-Brago, Edu Punay

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