TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte met with China's leader on Thursday (Aug. 29) in Beijing, where the two discussed bilateral ties and territorial disputes in the South China Sea.
According to reports, Xi Jinping rebuffed Duterte’s demands that China abide by a 2016 ruling by the International Court of Arbitration at the Hague. Xi refused to recognize the ruling, which was in favor of the Philippines, indicating that China will not budge from its position regarding territorial claims in the South China Sea.
The disagreement surfaced during talks concerning the South China Sea, which Manila refers to as the West Philippine Sea. Despite Duterte’s insistence that the Hague ruling is “binding” and “final,” Xi maintained Beijing’s position that the ruling is meaningless.
Speaking in Manila, Philippines presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo discussed the disagreement between Xi and Duterte on Friday morning (Aug. 30). However, Panelo noted that while both leaders recognize the impasse, bilateral relations between the two states continue to progress in other areas, reports the Inquirer.
“Both President Duterte and President Xi agreed that while their variant positions will have to remain, their differences however need not derail nor diminish the amity between the two countries…They shared the view that the contentious issue is not the sum total of the Philippines-Chinese bilateral relationship.”
While Beijing maintains its refusal to recognize Philippine territory, the two leaders did come to some agreement regarding joint exploration for natural resources. There was also some progress towards adopting an International Code of Conduct for the South China Sea to mitigate against potential violent confrontations between claimant states, according to reports.
According to the Philstar Global, the two leaders signed a total of six agreements during Duterte’s state visit, including two MOUs on educational exchange and scientific cooperation along with four cooperative agreements related to customs inspections and bilateral banking and finance operations.