PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte assured the Chinese government that the Philippines will not take part on a naval military exercise to be conducted in the disputed West Philippine Sea which will coincide with the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to the country.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque issued the clarification in the Palace press briefing on Tuesday over China’s concern on the United States’ plan to hold the exercises on the same day that Xi will visit the Philippines in November.
Roque said that the President had assured Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua with their concern during a courtesy call at the Palace on Monday afternoon.
“China expressed concern over a naval military exercise that the US will be conducting in the area at about the same time the Chinese president will be in the Philippines,” Roque said, adding that Duterte assured Zhao that “we will not take part in that military exercises.”
Although the spokesman did not specify which “area” the US would supposedly hold naval exercises, a CNN report said the US Navy’s Pacific Fleet has drawn up a proposal to conduct a series of operations in the disputed sea as well as the Taiwan Strait during one week in November.
Xi, meantime, is set to visit the Philippines after attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Papua New Guinea next month.
Roque said the Philippine government would ensure that Xi’s visit would be “fruitful” and “seamless.”