PH, China are ‘good friends’; sea dispute is a ‘different issue’ – Duterte
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines and China have a good friendship despite their dispute over the West Philippine Sea, President Rodrigo Duterte said in his taped weekly “Talk to the People” that aired late Monday night.
It was China that helped the Philippines when “everything was down for us,” according to Duterte.
“For whatever really is said about the relations of Philippines and China, I would maintain we are good friends. And they were the first ones to give us vaccines,” he said, speaking in a mix of Filipino and English.
“The issue over the West Philippine Sea is a different issue. And our friendship with them is a different issue,” he added.
Duterte said this even as the long-running maritime dispute between the countries continued.
China has stuck to its claim that it owns the entire South China Sea, which however includes portions of the West Philippine Sea.
The Philippines challenged its claim through the Permanent Court of Arbitration (IPCA) in The Hague in 2013 and won the case in 2016.
China has consistently refused to recognize the ruling.
Chinese officials continue to insist that their country owns the area, ignoring a series of protests and demands made by the Philippines for their vessels to leave the West Philippine Sea.
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