Tight security for Asean summit

Tight security for Asean summit

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said yesterday it is pointless to discuss China's island-building in the South China Sea and an worldwide tribunal's ruling striking down Beijing's claims to the waterway at this week's Asean summit, calling both a "non-issue".

Philippine authorities say no fewer than 40,000 soldiers, policemen and uniformed personnel have been deployed in Manila as the city hosts a summit of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on Saturday.

Acting Foreign Affairs Spokesman Robespierre Bolivar said that the draft of the statement could still change by the time the leaders meet for the ASEAN Summit on Saturday.

Still, President Donald Trump's move to roll back some of Barack Obama's USA engagement in the region has created an opening for China to talk up its role supporting growth and investment.

Pag-asa is internationally known as Thitu island and is called Zhongye island by China.

"At least, if there's a [code of] conduct and [China] will agree, so many things will be out, for example, challenges in the high seas and then the overflight that you have to identify yourself", said Duterte. The bloc will adopt a softer than usual tone about South China Sea disputes and exclude references to militarization or island-building, according to a draft of the chairman's statement.

While this week's summit will avoid contentious issues, it does highlight the tricky spot that Singapore, a supporter of the U.S.in the region, finds itself in.

But Duterte spoke again of the seeming futility of trying to "force" the arbitral ruling on China, a growing military power, and definitely a giant compared to the Philippines' military.

The draft also noted "progress" on a so-called framework agreement for a code of conduct on the South China Sea.

Thanks to the Philippines, China's hold on contested waters is sealed, despite its defeat before the United Nations court.

Four Asean members - Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam - along with China and Taiwan, have claims in the sea, which security analysts say is a potential flashpoint for conflict.

Chinese officials pledged US$15 billion in investment in the Philippines during Duterte's visit to China in October, according to the Philippine Department of Finance.

Ties between China and the Philippines hit a low after Manila pursed a case at an global tribunal in The Hague contesting Beijing's claims to much of the South China Sea.

He also said he may go to one of the islands already occupied by the Philippines to plant a national flag. "You need to understand this is not just a simple matter of conforming to a set of words", the diplomat said.

Dela Rosa said "We have rehearsed and fine-tuned all our systems and procedures for this even such that we have established a full backup system that will address any unforeseen situation that may arise". "(President Rodrigo Duterte) is ready", said Philippine Ambassador to the United States Marciano Paynor, who is director-general for operations of the Asean 2017 National Organising Council. It's the second-largest island in the South China Sea's hotly contested Spratlys archipelago.

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