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Duterte: Won't 'barter' away Philippine territory to China

In July, the international tribunal, the Hague had outlawed China's claims to the disputed waters of the South China Sea. Photograph: (AFP)

WION Manila, NCR, Philippines Oct 16, 2016, 01.55 PM (IST)

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte vowed on Sunday that he will not "barter" away territory and economic rights ahead of a visit to Beijing on Tuesday that marks a turning point in their bilateral ties. 

Duterte assured the nation that he "will continue to insist what is ours" and "will not bargain" in an attempt to mend ties with China. Duterte said he would raise the controversial ruling by the Hague tribunal that outlawed China's claims to most of the South China Sea, including waters close to the Philippine coast. 

"I will be very careful not to bargain anything (away) for after all I cannot give what is not mine and which I am not empowered to do by any stretch of the imagination," he told reporters in Davao city.

He said he will take up the matter with the Chinese President Xi Jinping and discuss the parameters of the July award without surrendering its sovereignty.

"The international tribunal's decision will be taken up, but there will be no hard impositions. We will talk and we will maybe paraphrase everything in the judgment and set the limits of our territories and (exclusive) economic zones."

China had refused to abide by the ruling, insisting nearly all of the strategically vital waters were within its territory. China has built artificial islands in the disputed areas that are capable of hosting military bases. 

Duterte hopes to secure Chinese investment for building a railway through the impoverished southern region of Mindanao and improve trade ties. 

But many critics warn assistance on economic projects could entail surrendering exclusive rights on the waters to its powerful neighbour. 

(WION with inputs from agencies)

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