South China Sea Disputes Are On Duterte’s China Agenda Ahead of Visit, But to What Ends? Can Duterte make China a workable offer concerning the South China Sea disputes?

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Speaking on Monday, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte told an audience of local government officials that the country should not “dwell on Scarborough Shoal.” According to a translation of his Tagalog remarks posted by Rappler, Duterte said the Philippines should not dwell “because we don’t have the capabilities.” “Even if we express anger, it will just amount to nothing. We can’t back it up,” Duterte added.

Duterte is set for his first bout of extra-regional diplomacy since becoming president, with back-to-back trips to Beijing and Tokyo slated for later this month. As my colleague Prashanth Parameswaran has outlined in greater detail, Duterte has long signaled his government’s intent to walk a very different line on the country’s maritime disputes with China in the South China Sea.

Despite bombastic claims to personally plant the Philippine flag on a Chinese artificial island in the Spratly group during his campaign for the presidency earlier this year, Duterte has shown little interest in holding Beijing to the July 12 decision of a five-judge international legal tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, which ruled overwhelmingly and unanimously in Manila’s favor on maritime entitlements in the South China Sea.

South China Sea Disputes Are On Duterte’s China Agenda Ahead of Visit, But to What Ends?

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail