Asia - Pacific

Arbitration win over China just a piece of paper: Philippines president

Rodrigo Duterte's remarks come after criticism by ex-foreign affairs secretary

Devina Halim   | 06.05.2021
Arbitration win over China just a piece of paper: Philippines president

JAKARTA, Indonesia

The president of the Philippines on Wednesday said the country’s victory over China at the Permanent Court of Arbitration is “just a piece of paper.”

The Hague-based UN-backed tribunal ruled in favor of the Philippines in July 2016, invalidating China’s nine-dash line territorial claim over the South China Sea, but Beijing has rejected the verdict.

The Philippines accuses China of violating its traditional right to fish in the Scarborough Shoal, which is claimed by both countries.

“Actually … I’ll tell you it's just a piece of paper. I'll throw that in the wastebasket,” President Rodrigo Duterte said in a pre-recorded briefing aired on Wednesday night.

Duterte has insisted that invoking the country’s arbitral victory in the West Philippine Sea would constitute going to war with China, according to local media reports.

Albert del Rosario, the former foreign affairs secretary who led the Philippines in the arbitration proceedings, said last week that Duterte has disregarded the ruling in exchange for lucrative investments from Beijing.

He said the president was ignoring the ruling for a promised $24 billion in Chinese investments and assistance that has not materialized so far.

Relations between the two countries have soured after Manila accused China of incursions by hundreds of its vessels in the South China Sea earlier this year.

The Philippines has lodged at least five diplomatic protests against China over the maritime dispute in 2021.

Most recently, it protested dangerous maneuvers by Chinese Coast Guard vessels against their Philippine counterparts in the West Philippine Sea.

According to the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Chinese vessels blocked the Philippine ships during patrols and training exercises in the vicinity of the Scarborough Shoal on April 24 and April 25.

*Writing by Rhany Chairunissa Rufinaldo with Anadolu Agency's Indonesian language services in Jakarta

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