MANILA, Philippines — Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte says he will not raise the long-simmering maritime disputes with China at a meeting of Southeast Asian nations in Laos next month, preferring to talk quietly with Chinese officials.
Duterte said Wednesday night that he will only bring up the issue in face-to-face discussions with Chinese officials because making noise might just antagonize China.
In July, a Hague-based arbitration tribunal ruled heavily in the Philippines’ favor in a case challenging China’s claims and aggressive actions in the South China Sea. China ignored the decision and continued to block Filipino fishermen from a disputed shoal and develop newly built islands.
The arbitration case was filed by Duterte’s predecessor. Duterte has been lukewarm in his support for the action, preferring “a softer approach” to resolving the disputes./ rga