MANILA – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping have stressed the need for restraint to maintain peace in the South China Sea, the president’s office in Manila said on Saturday.
The two leaders held an hour-long telephone summit on Friday to discuss a wide range of issues, including the Ukraine crisis and concerns over the response to the Kovid-19 epidemic.
The leaders stressed the need to make every effort to maintain peace, security and stability in the South China Sea by exercising restraint, resolving tensions and working in a mutually agreed framework for effective cooperation, the president’s office said in a statement.
Both sides were committed to expanding the space for positive engagement even though the dispute existed, the Duterte office said.
Since taking office in 2016, Duterte has maintained a warm relationship with Beijing, removing a long-running regional conflict over the South China Sea in exchange for billions of dollars in aid, loans and investment commitments.
The two presidents stressed the importance of continuing talks on the South China Sea and ending the code of conduct.
In 2016, an international arbitration ruling in The Hague overturned China’s massive demand for waterways, allowing shipping trade worth about $ 3 trillion a year. The case was brought before the tribunal on behalf of Manila.
In March, the Philippines filed a diplomatic protest over the involvement of a Chinese Coast Guard ship in a “near-distance tactic” that increased the risk of a collision on the disputed waterway.
Duterte and Xi called for a peaceful solution to the situation in Ukraine through talks and pledged to work together to address the effects of climate change, the president’s office said.
Duterte, 77, is set to complete his single, six-year term in June. – Reuters