Duterte says South China Sea row "better left untouched"
President Rodrigo Duterte said on Sunday the South China Sea dispute is "better left untouched."
The Philippine leader made the statement after waiting for two hours with Chinese President Xi Jinping in order to have a bilateral meeting with him at the sidelines of the recently concluded Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders' Meeting in Da Nang, Vietnam before heading back to Manila on Saturday night.
He said the Philippines and China have to be friends.
"There’s a --- the other hotheads who would like us to confront China and the rest of the world for so many issues. The South China Sea is better left untouched," Duterte said in a speech at the ASEAN Mentorship for Entrepreneurs Network and Opening of ASEAN Business and Investment Summit in Pasay City.
"Nobody can afford to go to war. Either the big powers, Russia, China, Britain or the United States, it can ill afford a violent confrontation. It does not have the luxury of the option of war and violence," Duterte said.
He said during his bilateral meeting with Xi, they underscored the need to preserve lives.
"And we agreed and he agrees, and he said, 'If you are President Duterte and you want to preserve the lives of the Filipinos, then as President of China, I want to save lives. I do not waste the lives of my countrymen for a useless war that cannot be won by anybody'," he said quoting Xi.
He said the Chinese leader made it clear to him that the "only way to go is cooperation."
"And so I would say that we should open our doors to everybody. Ideological conflicts are no longer in the vogue, it’s pass?," Duterte said.
"We do not go about running this world in accordance to our… Whether it is a pretended principle in life or just want to go the aggressor," he added.
Before his bilateral meeting with Xi, Duterte has said once and for all, he would ask his Chinese counterpart to immediately work for a code of conduct in the disputed waters.
Aside from the Philippines and China, the other claimant countries in the South China Sea are Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan. Celerina Monte/DMS