Duterte tells Xi: Arbitral ruling, final, binding, not subject to appeal; but Chinese leader rejects it
President Rodrigo Duterte has raised The Hague ruling during his bilateral talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
But Xi maintained China's position, rejecting the United Nations arbitral award to the Philippines, while invalidating Beijing historic and sovereign claim in almost the entire South China Sea, including those within the 200 nautical miles exclusive economic zone of the Philippines.
"President Duterte was also steadfast in raising with President Xi concerns central to the Philippines' claim in the West Philippine Sea (WPS), which include the ruling held by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague.
He said that the arbitral award is final, binding and not subject to appeal," Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement.
However, he said Xi reiterated his government's position of "not recognizing the arbitral ruling as well as not budging its position."
Panelo, who was present in the expanded bilateral meeting, said Duterte expected Xi's response.
"He (Duterte) is not surprised, because precisely that has been the position of them even two, three weeks before the (Chinese) Spokesman has said that, that Ambassador to the Philippines has said that. But as the President said, it will not stop him from raising the issue and he did," he said in a media interview.
Panelo said Xi "was not offended" by Duterte's move to raise the arbitral ruling.
He said the two leaders have agreed to continue with the "dialogue to peacefully resolve" the territorial dispute and to focus on other aspects of the two countries bilateral relations, such as trade, people to people exchange, and cultural exchange.
He said the two presidents also agreed on the importance of self-restraint and respect for freedom of navigation in and overflight above the South China Sea.
Panelo, also the chief presidential legal counsel, said Duterte also brought up possible joint exploration between two countries in the West Philippine Sea.
Quoting Xi, he said the steering committee created for that purpose should prepare a substantive program on the matter.
In the same meeting, which took place at the Diaoyutai State Guest House in Beijing, Duterte and Xi agreed for the need to formulate the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea and that it should be crafted within the remaining years of the Duterte administration.
Duterte's term ends in June 2022.
Aside from the Philippines and China, other claimants in the South China Sea are Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Taiwan. Celerina Monte/DMS