Palace: Duterte’s China visit ‘successful, highly productive’

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte is welcomed by a military officer upon his arrival at the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City on September 1, 2019 following his successful official visit to the People’s Republic of China. (King Rodriguez I Presidential Photo)

Malacañang on Sunday, September 1, deemed President Rodrigo Duterte’s official visit to China as “successful” and “highly productive” despite Chinese President Xi Jinping rejecting the 2016 arbitral ruling that invalidated China’s nine-dash line claim in the South China Sea.

“With the conclusion of President Duterte’s official visit to China, we wish to inform the public that the same has been successful and highly productive,” said presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo in a statement. 

Duterte arrived in Manila Sunday morning from his five-day visit, during which he carried out his promise to discuss with Xi several concerns like the South China Sea dispute, among others.

According to Panelo, both the Philippines and China have agreed to exercise self-restraint in handling the dispute to avoid untoward incidents.

“The close relationship that President Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping have been able to foster through the years has enabled the two leaders to have frank exchanges on the respective positions of our two countries with regard to our territorial dispute, with both of them agreeing to exercise self-restraint and observe the UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea), particularly with respect to maritime navigation and overflight in the South China Sea,” he said.

Duterte on Thursday, August 29, raised the arbitral ruling that favored the Philippines during the bilateral talks at the Diaoyutai Guest House. Xi, however, refused to acknowledge the Hague ruling.

The two leaders, in the end, agreed to disagree.

“The two leaders recognize that despite any dispute that our countries may have, the same can always be resolved through peaceful dialogue and negotiations, especially given the centuries old familial ties between our nations,” Panelo said.

The spokesman added that China has recognized the immediate need to create a “definitive” code of conduct in the vital waterway “all with the intent of avoiding provocative acts that may impair friendly ties and threaten the peace and stability of the region.”

“Acknowledging the importance of a Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea to regional peace and stability, the two Presidents expressed determination to fast track negotiations for the conclusion of an effective and substantive COC at the soonest possible time,” he said.

Panelo also noted that Duterte and Xi’s agreement to pursue other areas of cooperation for mutual benefit despite the maritime conflict.

“More importantly, the two leaders acknowledge that our bilateral relations have a much wider horizon, and there are vast frontiers where our nations can cooperate and assist each other for their mutual benefit, such as in the fields of education, health, agriculture, science and technology, security, trade, investments, energy, and people to people and cultural exchanges,” he said.

No corruption

While in Beijing, Duterte met with Chinese and Filipino businessmen at a forum and urged them to invest in the Philippines. He also assured businessmen that no corruption would be allowed under his administration.

“Well, I would like to assure you that during my term, I will not allow corruption. And if you go to the Philippines with your partners or he must have something there as an agent, let him come to me for any of your problems,” Duterte said.

He also advised the Chinese businessmen to call “8888,” the Philippine government’s hotline, for complaints.

But Duterte had something to say to those who would “destroy” the Philippines.

“So for those who are into drugs, crimes, I am just asking them: Please avoid the Philippines because if you destroy my country with drugs, cocaine and everything, I will kill you. Period,” he said.

“If you are a law-abiding citizen, if you are a businessman and you are thriving, rich, do not worry we will protect you. We will protect your money. And when the time comes you want to go out, you can bring all your money outside of the Philippines. That is my guarantee and you have my protection and word of honor,” he added. 

Ritchel Mendiola

Ritchel Mendiola is a staff writer and reporter for the Asian Journal. You can reach her at [email protected].

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