Duterte to China: Let's talk on maritime claims

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte delivering a speech during the Philippine Air Force's 69th anniversary celebration.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte delivering a speech during the Philippine Air Force's 69th anniversary celebration. PHOTO: AFP

MANILA • Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte yesterday offered China conciliatory talks on a long-awaited international tribunal ruling on Beijing's maritime claims, a week before the verdict.

Mr Duterte had previously said that he was open to talks with China, and even joint ventures to share resources in the sea.

But yesterday's comments were the first since he became president that confirmed that he was open to talks.

Mr Duterte, who was sworn into office last week, said he was optimistic that the United Nations-backed tribunal in The Hague would rule in favour of the Philippines. "If it's favourable to us, let's talk," Mr Duterte said in a speech before the Philippine Air Force at the former US military base of Clark, about an hour's drive from Manila.

The Philippines' case challenges China's claims to most of the strategically vital South China Sea.

China has said that it would reject the ruling and refused to recognise the Permanent Court of Arbitration's jurisdiction over the issue.

Mr Duterte has said that he wants friendly relations with China, a departure from his predecessor.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 06, 2016, with the headline 'Duterte to China: Let's talk on maritime claims'. Print Edition | Subscribe