President Rodrigo Duterte has directly expressed his wish for peace to Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua amid an ongoing maritime dispute between their two countries.
During a speaking engagement on Monday, August 29, the president addressed Zhao who was sitting among the audience, the Inquirer reported.
“I don’t want to go to war. There’s always war and peace. If I am not ready for war, then peace is the only way,” he told Zhao who acknowledged the sentiment with a smile.
“I hope the Chinese may find a place in their hearts for the Filipinos. I hope you treat us your brothers and not enemies and take note of our plight,” added Duterte.
The president also said he hopes the Chinese would at least allow Filipino fishermen to conduct their livelihood in the Chinese-controlled parts of the West Philippine Sea.
He stressed that for now, he has no intention of bringing up the recent international ruling that favored the Philippines’ claims over the disputed area as it would further aggravate the situation.
But eventually, Duterte said he will have to speak to China regarding the issue to end it once and for all.
“I will not use the judgment arbitral now but I would, one day, sit in front of your representative or you and then I will lay bare my position. And I would say that this paper, I cannot get out of the four corners of this document,” he said.
Duterte previously said he was planning on having bilateral talks with China to settle the longtime maritime dispute which has caused a rift between the two Asian nations.