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Philippines' Duterte Claims ‘Abhorring’ Maritime Incident Involving China

INTERNATIONAL: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, in a rare public rebuke of China has expressed abhorrence and “grave concern” on Monday during ASEAN-China summit. This was following last week’s firing of water cannon by Chinese coast guard ships on Filipino supply boats in the South China Sea. It happened near a grounded World War II-era warship that serves as an outpost. He says South China Sea issues could not be solved by force.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte says, "We abhor the recent events in the Ayungin Shoal and view with grave concern other similar developments. This does not speak well of the relations between our nations and partnerships."

The Philippine president says that China must remain committed to the early conclusion of the effective and substantive code of conduct in the South China Sea. He says it is simply no other way out of this colossal problem but the rule of law.

The Philippine president’s words were unusually strong because Duterte, whose term ends next year, has pursued closer ties with China since taking office in mid-2016. China's assertion of sovereignty over the South China Sea has set it against ASEAN members Vietnam and the Philippines, while Brunei, Taiwan and Malaysia also lay claim to parts.

The European Union, meanwhile, was among the latest to hit out at China for using a water cannon against Philippine resupply boats in disputed waters. A statement issued by the EU over the weekend followed similar condemnation from the United States.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has told leaders of the 10-country ASEAN at the summit on Monday that Beijing would not "bully" its smaller regional neighbors, amid rising tension over the South China Sea. The virtual summit, hosted by Chinese President Xi Jinping without a representative from Myanmar. This is the second time in a month that ASEAN has excluded Myanmar’s Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing from a regional summit.

PHOTO: SCREEN SHOWING VARIOUS LEADERS ATTENDING VIRTUAL ASEAN-CHINA SUMMIT / SOUNDBITES FROM PHILIPPINE PRESIDENT RODRIGO DUTERTE / FILE FOOTAGE OF CHINESE SHIPS AND BOATS OUT AT SOUTH CHINA SEA


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