Friday, 23 February, 2018

Philippines goes easy on China in final ASEAN statement

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte speaks during a news conference after concluding the 30th Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit in Manila Philippines goes easy on China in final ASEAN statement
Ellis Copeland | 03 May, 2017, 22:38

Six hours after the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit officially ended in Manila, no customary joint statement had been issued and it was unclear whether there was agreement over including references to China's militarization and island-building in the hotly disputed waterway.

"I congratulate the government of the Philippines for having successfully killed a Abu Sayyaf leader two days ago". During Obama's final months in office, the Philippine president moved to build closer economic ties with China and Russian Federation while repeatedly threatening to end his nation's longstanding military alliance with the U.S.

Since he became President a year ago, Duterte has encouraged the extrajudicial killings of thousands of citizens suspected of dealing or using drugs. The statement said Asean reaffirmed the importance of pursuing peaceful resolution of disputes without resorting to force. China and Taiwan constitute the rest of the claimants of the waters that are believed to be sitting atop potential oil and gas deposits.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak hopes the more aggressive stand taken by Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte against extremists such as the Abu Sayyaf in the southern Philippines will improve the security in that region.

"Since previous year, with the joint efforts of China and ASEAN countries including the Philippines, temperatures in the South China Sea situation have gone down and things have eased up". China has long argued that the territorial disputes have nothing to do with its relationship with ASEAN and should be settled through bilateral talks.

An alternative phrase, "full respect for legal and diplomatic processes", was removed from a South China Sea chapter and moved elsewhere in the draft statement as Chinese officials have requested, three Philippine officials told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the issue with reporters.

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China is not a member of the 10-member bloc and did not attend the summit but it is extremely sensitive about the content of its statements.

"Our government, in its desire to fully and quickly accommodate our aggressive northern neighbor may have left itself negotiating a perilous road with little or no room to rely on brake power and a chance to shift gears if necessary", former Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said.

Duterte has said he prefers to warm once-frosty ties with and secure infrastructure funding from Beijing.

A final draft of the communique Duterte would issue after the summit did not mention his country's arbitration triumph over China.

"It might embolden them to advance some more in their South China Sea master plan", said Golez, who has called for a stronger Philippine response to increasingly bolder steps by China to assert its claims in the disputed sea, one of the world's busiest.

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