Duterte, Xi may discuss ‘issues of conflict’
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte could bring up the South China Sea territorial row and the proposed joint oil deal with China in his visit to Beijing later this month.
Asked if the maritime dispute in the South China Sea and the proposed oil deal would be raised, presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said “issues of conflict” could be “part of the discussion” on the President’s fifth trip to China since assuming the presidency in 2016.
The President’s working visit to China this August will be his second trip to Beijing for 2019 after going there in April for the Belt and Road Forum.
“If it is a working visit, then it refers to discussions with the visited country relative to issues that affect both. Issues that will benefit both countries. Issues of conflict, issues of cooperation, issues of support,” Panelo said.
Malacañang said the President and Chinese President Xi Jinping may also discuss matters concerning terrorism, illegal drugs, cultural exchanges, people-to-people ties and financing.
President Duterte’s visit to Beijing comes in the wake of the Recto Bank incident in June, which the President dismissed as a “little maritime incident” between two fishing vessels.
The President’s verbal deal with Xi that allowed Chinese to fish in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone was also questioned.
In his fourth State of the Nation address last month, the President vowed to stand up for Manila’s claims in the South China Sea “in due time” once the Philippines begins its oil exploration deal with China.
The Palace noted that it was up to the President if he would bring up the 2016 arbitral ruling that favored Manila’s claims over Beijing’s in his visit this month.
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