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.
“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.
Cover photo via Reuters