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Duterte set to raise 2016 arbitral ruling with Xi.

PRESIDENT Duterte is expected to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday and directly raise the 2016 arbitral ruling, which handed Manila a victory in its bid to declare illegal Beijing's 'excessive' claims in the South China Sea.

He has rejected advice from some quarters not to raise the arbitral ruling.

Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua earlier said China's position on the territorial dispute will not change despite the intention of the President to raise the country's arbitral victory, but Malacanang said on Wednesday it expects Beijing to have 'open ears.'

'I think China will have open ears. After all, they kept on saying that we are friends and friends can always talk on anything. Moreover, I think it is time that they really talk about it since if the concern is maritime security and peace in the region, then they really have to talk because that is the cause of some irritants between the two countries,as well as other countries who have claims,' Presidential Spokesman and Chief Legal Counsel Salvador S. Panelo said in an interview with reporters in China.

Sought to explain 'irritants', Panelo cited the June 9 Recto Bank incident and the instances when Filipino fishermen were driven away; as well as the recent cases where Chinese warships pass through the country's territorial waters without notifying Philippine authorities and turning off identification systems.

Last week, Duterte warned foreign vessels passing through Philippine waters without clearance from the government. Chinese warships have passed through the Sibutu Strait in Tawi-Tawi last August and July but without giving prior notice to Philippine authorities.

Besides bringing up the arbitral ruling, the President also vowed to prod China on the conclusion of the delayed Code of a Conduct in the West Philippine Sea, as well as the 60-40 joint oil exploration deal with China.

Besides meeting with President Xi on Thursday, Duterte will witness the signing of agreements on education, science and technology, economic and social development.

On Friday, August 30, he will meet with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang before departing Beijing and going to Guanzhou, Guangdong province, to watch Gilas Pilipinas' game against Italy in the Fiba Basketball World Cup on August 31.

Prior to the game, he is expected to meet Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan and discuss increasing trade and investment and deepening the friendship between Filipinos and the people of Guangdong, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs. Wang will accompany the President in watching the game. Duterte leaves China on September 1.

The President's trip to China is his fifth since assuming office and his first since the Recto Bank incident where 22 Filipino fishermen nearly drowned after their fishing boat had an 'allision' with a Chinese vessel which abandoned them at sea as their boat sank.

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Publication:Business Mirror (Makati City, Philippines)
Geographic Code:0PACI
Date:Aug 29, 2019
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