China opposes raising its maritime disputes at international meetings, including the G-20 summit ending Monday in Hangzhou and subsequent meetings of Southeast Asian leaders and their partners in Laos.
To Beijing’s pleasure, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said he will not raise the subject of China’s compliance with an international tribunal’s ruling that invalidated Beijing’s territorial claims in the South China Sea.
Preferring a quiet diplomacy, Duterte last month sent his special envoy, former President Fidel Ramos, to meet with Chinese officials and they agreed on the need to reduce tensions through talks.
“We will not raise hell now because of the judgment, but there will come a time that we have to do some reckoning about this,” Duterte said.
He said the Philippines can take only so much, with China insisting it owns the contested islands and refusing to recognize the arbitration ruling. “You cannot be slapped everyday with those kinds of words,” Duterte said.
China has relied on its ally Cambodia to block any overt mention of tensions in the South China Sea in communiqués following meetings of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, because it doesn’t want to be confronted by a united bloc.
President Barack Obama was more forthcoming in expressing his concerns over China’s behavior. He said ahead of his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Hangzhou that the U.S. has been “very firm” in response to Chinese military assertiveness.
“We’ve indicated to them that there will be consequences,” he told CNN.
Xi told Obama that China will continue to “unswervingly safeguard” its territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea, according to state-run Xinhua News Agency. (AP)