Duterte: South China Sea Code of Conduct ‘least concern’ of US
PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte brushed aside the “concern of America and the Western world” over the continuing absence of a Code of Conduct on the South China Sea and said it should be the “least” of their worries.
Duterte dropped his latest tirade against the US on Friday, hours after Chinese President Xi Jinping told him that China would not budge from its position against the arbitral ruling on the disputed waters, which favored the Philippines.
Duterte is on an official visit to the communist state, his fifth, where he and Xi reaffirmed ties between their two countries, which have been marred by a boat ramming incident involving a Chinese ship and a Filipino fishing boat in July.
In his opening statement at a meeting with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, Duterte said that he had received “so many requests” about the Code of Conduct on the South China Sea.
“Most of them are [from] Asesn countries. The biggest urgency really comes from the Western world,” he said.”And I would like to tell you now, in front of the media and all, that the passing of – or the passage of the Code of Conduct by China and everyone else is the least concern of America,” said Duterte who has repeatedly expressed his disdain over US “interference” in Philippine affairs.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo, who accompanied Duterte, had said that President Xi agreed that there was a need to formulate the Code of Conduct and “it should be crafted within the last remaining years” of Duterte’s term.
The US and some of its allies have repeatedly invoked the “freedom of navigation” in the South China Sea and called for a Code of Conduct that would ease the conflict among claimants that included the Philippines and China.
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