President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has no plans on bringing up again the discussion of the international arbitral award favoring the Philippines in his future meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping after the leader refused to recognize it, his spokesman said on Friday.
On Thursday, Duterte meets with the Chinese President at the State Guesthouse in Beijing to discuss the on-going dispute on the West Philippine Sea, including the 2016 arbitral ruling that voided Beijing’s maritime claim and affirmed Manila’s rights over its 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
In a statement, Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said that President Xi reiterated that his government, who virtually claims the entire 3.5-million-square-kilometer South China Sea, is not recognizing the arbitral ruling nor budging from its position.
“No more. We have already raised it. We will not raise it repeatedly,” Panelo said.
“They both agreed after that, that the issue of conflict should not be the sum total of the relationship between the two countries and that they should move forward, but at the same time continue with the dialogue peacefully on that issue,” he added.
According to Panelo, Duterte and Xi understood that their contrasting views on the arbitral ruling should not hinder the two nations in their pursuit of security and economic cooperation, and in further improving relations.
“What they have agreed upon is that both countries will refrain or avoid performing aggressive, provocative acts that will trigger incidents that have [happened] before,” Panelo said.
“What has been touched upon was the self-restraint imposed by the two governments unto themselves not to perform acts that could trigger any hostilities within the area,” he noted.
Despite Duterte’s failure to sway Xi’s decision, Panelo assured the public that the official visit of Duterte in China “went very well.”