Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte arrived in Beijing to meet his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping. Duterte is expected to discuss Hague ruling on South China Sea during the visit.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte reached Beijing on Wednesday for his scheduled bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Duterte was accompanied by several top Philippine officials, including Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin. The visit comes amid strained relations between the two countries over the South China Sea.
Duterte is also expected to hold meetings on Friday with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang. This is Duterte’s fifth visit to China.
Despite Duterte’s affection for China and his growing popularity in his country, the President is under immense pressure to assert Philippine’s maritime presence. Duterte has been slammed by nationalists and left-wing groups for not demanding China’s compliance with the Hague ruling. He has avoided raising the issue with Beijing for the past three years.
However, Duterte addressed the issue in a speech last week and said, “”Whether you like it or not, will make you (China) happy or not, angry or otherwise, I’m sorry. But we have to talk about the arbitral ruling.” Analysts believe that Duterte is toughening his stance to avert full-scale backlash.
The Haque arbitration invalidated China’s claim to most of South China Sea by citing the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. The South China Sea hold significance as it serves as a major shipping route for global commerce. It is also rich in fish and possible oil and gas reserves.
The visit comes at a time when China has challenged sea boundaries of neighbouring Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines. The US has rebuked China for its “coercive interference”. Repeated unannounced Chinese movement in Philippines’ territory has also raised concern within the military.