Duterte claims Xi threatened war over South China Sea

Foreign minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman said the Code of Conduct is not legal or binding, but can be used to ensure security and order in the region.

Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said on Saturday a "frank discussion" had taken place with China on possible oil explorations in the South China Sea and "both parties agreed to pursue a more peaceful resolution to the matter that satisfies both our sovereign and economic rights".

The resource-rich South China Sea is claimed by four Asean countries - Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam - and two non-Asean countries, namely China and Taiwan.

Lozada however remains positive that the two countries could resolve the maritime dispute diplomatically, following the BCM talks.

The President then said he is not ready to sow a rift with China.

Under former President Benigno Aquino, the Philippines had adopted a tough stance on China's claims, but the country's anger at the world's second largest economy has become a warm embrace following the election a year ago of President Rodrigo Duterte, who has declined to push China on territorial issues in hopes of being rewarded with investment and aid.

China's president warned the Philippines that it would go to war if Manila insisted on enforcing an worldwide arbitration decision rejecting China's claims over disputed areas of the South China Sea, the Philippine president said in a televised speech Friday.

Until recently, progress has been slow amid disputes over the body of water that China claims virtually in its entirety.

The code framework would envisage a round-the-clock hotline and urge defense officials to find ways to follow the code, Chee Wee Kiong of Singapore's foreign ministry said on Thursday.

"We will continue to engage them in diplomatic conversation and communication", he said. "We will fight you". According to the press release, the second meeting of the BCM will be held in the Philippines in the second half of this year.

Duterte made the revelation just as the Philippines and China began bilateral talks on the dispute in Guiyang, China through the newly forged Bilateral Consultation Mechanism (BCM). "As (Duterte) told President Xi (Jinping), there will still be problems, but we are willing to discuss the issues with the Chinese side and he is optimistic that the bilateral negotiations and bilateral dialogue is the way to go", Romana said.

The issue has come to a head in recent years as China has pursued a strategy of building artificial islands capable of supporting military facilities in the region, provoking strong reactions from other claimants as well as the United States, which argues Beijing's actions threaten freedom of navigation and overflight through the strategically vital waters. Moreover, the president argues that Philippines has one of the least developed military assets in the region.

The magistrate said even the 2016 chairman's statement in Cambodia mentioned China's land reclamation activities. "It was directed at China - do not reclaim further - especially Scarborough Shoal", he said.

  • Zachary Reyes