Philippines' Duterte visits Chinese warships in home town

Trevor Jackson
May 1, 2017

By late on Saturday night, more than four hours after the summit ended, the chairman's statement had yet to be released.

"The draft of the Chairman's Statement is deeply disappointing and, if not revisited, would manifest an absence of the desired leadership", said del Rosario, who spearheaded the Philippines's anti-China, pro-American stance under then-President Benigno S. Aquino III. But the ruling against China came after Duterte took power.

Southeast Asian leaders concluded a summit here on Saturday by dropping references to the China's massive island-building in the South China Sea and to a landmark court ruling that rendered such expansion illegal in response to Beijing's lobbying.

Duterte, who is chairman of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) said the region was very concerned over tensions between the USA and North Korea resulting in a "catastrophe", while Asia could be the first victim of a nuclear war.

Philippines president, famous for his rhetoric and controversial anti-drugs campaign, said that he would try to persuade his United States counterpart, Donald Trump, to back down from the conflict.

Duterte, elected a year ago, has changed foreign policy by playing down his country's territorial dispute with China over large parts of the South China Sea in favour of seeking greater economic aid and investment.

Ahead of the summit, Chinese officials asked the Philippines, as ASEAN host, to avoid any reference to China's arbitration defeat in the communique, three Philippine officials told The Associated Press on Friday on condition of anonymity.

China's attempts to assert its dominance over the South China Sea, one of the world's busiest shipping lanes that carries more than $5 trillion in annual trade, have in the past angered Southeast Asian nations with competing maritime claims such as Vietnam and the Philippines.

His foreign policy strategy is a stunning reversal of that of the previous administration, which had close ties with the United States and was seen by China as a nuisance.

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Duterte faces a mass-murder complaint before the International Criminal Court and an impeachment bid at home as bodies continue to pile up in his anti-drugs campaign.

But diplomats said other ASEAN nations, unhappy with intense Chinese lobbying of the Philippines, sought to toughen up the chairman's statement and there were hot debates on the issue in Manila.

He also stressed the need to aim for a drug-free Asean.

He said this could be seen under the matter of Asean Community Vision 2025 where Asean leaders "reaffirmed the shared commitment to maintaining and promoting peace, security and stability in the region, as well as to the peaceful resolution of disputes, including full respect for legal and diplomatic processes..."

Duterte said if the current tensions lead to nuclear war, "no one will win", the source said.

A draft statement issued prior to the 30th annual ASEAN summit urged North Korea to "immediately cease all actions that violate its global obligations and contravene United Nations Security Council resolutions".

Leaders of the 10 member states will take stock of progress on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), according to The Straits Times.

The draft shows that other matters tackled included East Timor's application to become an ASEAN member. The Chinese also wanted that removed because they believe it referred to the ruling, the officials said.

Other reports by TheDailyFarc

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