Duterte to China ambassador: Talks should be based on Hague ruling


MANILA, Philippines — After asking Beijing to act in good faith in dealing with the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte insisted on Friday night that any upcoming bilateral talks with China be based on the arbitral tribunal’s ruling on the South China Sea dispute.

The president stressed this point during an hours-long meeting with Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua, who flew in to Davao to talk with Duterte.

“We avoid trouble with them. Hindi pa natin kaya. Sinabi ko Mr. Ambassador, I will not talk about it but when we are in front of each other in a bilateral talk, just the two of us, then I would state my case. I have this arbitral judgment. We will not go out of the four corners of this paper, then let us talk,” the president said during his speech at the 10th anniversary celebration of the East Mindanao Command in Davao City.

“Not now, it’s not the right time to talk about it. There are so many conferences going on,” he said.

The president said, however, that he would not have China back out from the negotiations. “If China withdraws from formal talks, then it could only mean one thing,” he said.

He also said the two countries, who are rival claimants over parts of the waterway, should talk about things that would unite.