By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
South China Sea would be better off left untouched in order to avoid conflict among claimant nations.
This was disclosed by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte in his speech at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Business and Investment Summit.
“The South China Sea is better left untouched. It can ill afford a violent confrontation. We don’t have the luxury of war and violence,” Duterte said Sunday afternoon.
Duterte was recalling the conversation he had with Chinese President Xi Jinping in their bilateral talks during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Da Nang, Vietnam a few days before.
According to Duterte, Xi understood his position and explained that the Chinese leader explained to him that he was also trying to do his best for his own people.
“‘If you are President Duterte and you want to preserve the lives of Filipinos, then as President of China, I want to save lives,'” Duterte recalled how his conversation with Xi went.
“‘I do not want to waste the lives of my countrymen over a useless war that cannot be won by anybody,'” Xi reportedly told Duterte, referring to any conflict that could arise out of the South China Sea dispute.
Earlier, Duterte revealed that Xi was quite surprised when he expressed last week his plan to raise the issue on the maritime dispute during the APEC Summit. He said that he explained to Xi that he was bringing up the issue as ASEAN Chairman, and not because of sovereignty.
“I had to do it because the Philippines chairs the ASEAN now. I cannot escape that from my duty so I have every right to ask him. But I explained it to him in a very nice way,” Duterte had said.
Duterte also assured that the government was protecting the country’s rights over the disputed waters ,while building a good relationship with the Asian giant.
“We never surrendered anything. I do not want to talk about this for the moment. It is not time for aggression, it is not time for violence,” he said.
Duterte said that it would have been much easier if he was only dealing with China, but noted the other claimants as well, namely Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Vietnam.
Xi will not be able to participate in the 31st ASEAN-East Asia Summit in Manila. China, one of the dialogue partners, is being represented by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.
Tags: APEC, ASEAN, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, Association of Southeast Asian Nations, China, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Da Nang, Duterte: South China Sea better left untouched, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, South China Sea, Vietnam