Philippine leader due to visit China, Japan next month

Trips arranged as part of Duterte administration’s plans to pursue independent foreign policy

Philippine leader due to visit China, Japan next month

World Bulletin / News Desk

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte is planning visits to China and Japan next month as part of his administration’s efforts to pursue an independent foreign policy.

The Manila Bulletin reported Friday that Duterte said he expects to visit China more frequently with the aim of both resolving disputes over parts of the South China Sea -- which Manila calls the West Philippine Sea -- and improving trade relations.

“You will see me more often in China,” he underlined during a visit to southern Misamis Oriental province Thursday. “One of the things that I would demand if I go to the mainland China is give us back our fishing rights. That’s one."

He is also due to travel to Vietnam -- which also has conflicting claims with Beijing in the sea -- next week as well as to Japan next month.

The Philippines president announced earlier this month that his administration will adopt an “independent foreign policy” and would shun interference from foreign governments.

The declaration came after a controversial expletive-laden statement made prior to his trip to Laos for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-East Asia Summit, during which he lashed out at United States President Barack Obama for his perceived meddling in his government's crackdown on drug traffickers, pushers and peddlers.

It was followed by another announcement that Duterte no longer wants the Philippines to participate in joint sea patrols with other countries -- seemingly again turning his nose up at the U.S. and his predecessor’s agreement with the Philippines’ long-time ally to start joint patrols in the South China Sea.

He also revealed that Russia and China had agreed to provide weaponry and armaments for the Philippines military to use in its counter-insurgency campaign in its southern region of Mindanao.

On Thursday, Duterte underlined that he seeks peace rather than war with China over the sea dispute.

“There is always a time in this world: the time to talk, a time to war, a time for bloody, a time to be purified. It’s not the time because we cannot depend on anybody, except us,” he said.

He added that he does not expect the U.S. “to die for us so we will just have to navigate our way around here”.

His visit to Hanoi is scheduled for Sept. 28-29, and Japanese news agency quoted unnamed diplomatic sources as saying that his trip to Japan is set for Oct. 25-27.

Japan is the Philippines’ biggest trading partner and is giving the country two large patrol craft and lending five patrol aircraft to keep watch over parts of the sea.

On July 12, the Permanent Court of Arbitration based in The Hague ruled in favor of the Philippines in its petition against China’s “nine-dash line” claim on a large part of the South China Sea.

It said China had no basis to claim historic rights in the area, and that it had violated the Philippines’ sovereign rights by constructing artificial islands and interfering with Philippine fishing.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 23 Eylül 2016, 10:25