Xi tells Duterte China will work to safeguard South China Sea peace

Manila drops South China Sea hut construction on sandbar after Beijing gripes

Manila drops South China Sea hut construction on sandbar after Beijing gripes

Such a written code, he said, is necessary for claimants to safely navigate through the disputed sea now heavily militarized by China. "But I said, there are contesting countries which have overlapping jurisdictions", the President said.

"Do not do anything that will disturb the equilibrium that is now present there", he said of the decision, speaking to reporters before flying to Vietnam for an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit where Chinese leader Xi Jinping was also due to attend.

"The next photographs from intelligence that came up (showed that) there are (weapons)".

On Aug. 15, a blue Chinese helicopter flew low off Thitu's southwest coast, the report said.

Yet, Duterte believed that the issue should be raised in bilateral meetings at a regional assembly.

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Duterte made the decision after Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano advised him of an agreement involving China and the Philippines for a halt on new construction in the disputed waters, Lorenzana later told a news conference. Look, you know (they) already placed the heavy artillery there. "It [makes] us anxious and wary because we are also using the passage", he said. And I have to carry the voice of Asean. "I have to tell the truth that everybody is anxious", he added.

China claims a large portion of the South China Sea through its nine-dash line claim.

"I do not take it against China". China is a good friend. "China was there when we needed most their help", an apparent reference to a donation of guns and ammunition while government forces battled extremist gunmen in Marawi City. "They (China) saw it and they complained, so we had to pull out", Lorenzana said.

"The Asean's (position is) up to where are we supposed and to what extent would be the use of that passage?" The framework is to serve as a roadmap for negotiations on a so-called code of conduct in the often-volatile waterway.

The president added that during the meeting with Xi, he would be frank and will assert the country's rights in discoursing over the maritime dispute.

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The rift over the tiny sandbar, where Filipinos planned to erect fishermen's shelters, in the group near Philippine- occupied Thitu island in the Spratlys archipelago remains unresolved but both sides pledged not to occupy any new territory, he said.

The dispute over a string of sandbars called Sandy Cay emerged in August and prompted China and the Philippines to consider negotiating some sort of arrangement to prevent such incidents from spiraling out of control, Lorenzana said. "I would insist that we hurry up".

He said he will tell Mr Xi when he meets him on Saturday (Nov 11) that "the whole of Asean is anxious about how we should behave in the seas that are now militarised, afraid that there might be a mistake and there would be shooting".

The report released on Thursday said that China was undermining regional security and prosperity and challenging worldwide rules and norms by engaging in coercive activities and attempting to limit lawful activities in the South China Sea. China and Taiwan, on the other hand, are claiming most of its features.

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