By Joel Cristobal 

President Rodrigo Duterte stands before business delegates and economic experts during Nikkei’s 25th International Conference on the Future of Asia in Japan on Friday. PCOO   

President Rodrigo Duterte, who has engaged in warmer diplomatic ties with China since entering office, has questioned Beijing’s “9-dash line” claim that encircles 85 percent of the South China Sea (SCS).

“I love China. It has helped us a bit. But it behooves upon us to ask: Is it right for a country to claim the whole ocean?,” he said during Nikkei’s 25th International Conference on the Future of Asia in Japan on Friday.

“This is not a testing of waters of temperature, my God, it is really testing who can fire the first shot. And I am sad and bewildered not angry because I cannot do anything,” he added.


The Chief Executive also urged Beijing to fast-track the South China Sea Code of Conduct – a multilateral agreement that ensures peace and stability in the hotly-contested waters of SCS.

Duterte suggested a neutral 3rd party to hasten the completion of the conduct, which is expected to be crafted by 2021 according to Chinese officials.

The Southeast Asian Nation (ASEAN) and China completed the code’s framework last 2017.

Keep out

He then advised the US to keep its distance from the maritime dispute, saying an all-out-war between the two superpowers will make matters worse.

Duterte also pointed out how “there is so much animosity covered by sweet talking about how they (US) desire to have an agreement.”  

“[But] I just hope that China would come up with conduct of the sea soon and somebody should reach out to the United States. Because if you leave it to them to talk nothing will happen,” he stressed.