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Jul 14, 2016
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A seasoned diplomat has advised President Rodrigo Duterte to extend a gesture of goodwill to China to reduce the rising tension caused by the arbitration tribunal’s favorable ruling for the Philippines over a decades-long maritime dispute.

Former Ambassador Jose Apolinario Lozada, Jr. told ABS-CBN News that one such move would be to stop using the name “West Philippine Sea” to refer to the disputed waters.

“The first thing that we should really do is... let's try to be magnanimous by giving back the name as South China Sea. For the Chinese, this is really very important,” he said.

“In the first place, it's only the Philippines that calls it West Philippine Sea,” he added.

The Philippines started referring to the South China Sea as the West Philippine Sea under the Aquino administration to bolster claims to parts of the resource-rich expanse which China also lays claim to in whole.

Lozada also said persuading China to abide by the international court’s ruling would be tricky but could still be doable if we play our diplomatic cards right.

“The most difficult part after this is to convince China to recognize the authority of the Philippines over the islands and hopefully they will quietly leave,” said the former ambassador to Palau.

He added that the Duterte administration should start discussing plans with our allies, particularly the United States, in how to tackle the situation if China refuses to back off.

On Tuesday, China maintained its headstrong stand on the issue and said it does not acknowledge The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague’s favorable ruling for the Philippines.

 

Cover photo via Reuters

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