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South China Sea dispute: Manila will not flaunt results if it wins

MANILA (The Straits Times/ANN) - Philippine Foreign Minister Perfecto Yasay has assured that Manila would not issue a "provocative" statement if the Permanent Court of Arbitration hands down a verdict in favour of it. This is part of a special report on the South China Sea issue ahead of The Hague ruling.

With a new, Beijing- friendly president, the Philippines has promised not to "flaunt" what is widely expected to be a favourable ruling from an international tribunal on a case it filed challenging China's expansive claims in the South China Sea.

Foreign Minister Perfecto Yasay said last week that Manila would not issue a "provocative" statement if the Permanent Court of Arbitration hands down a verdict in favour of it. Manila would also want to talk to Beijing "as soon as possible" after the verdict is announced, he said.

Eschewing the confrontational tone taken by his predecessor, President Rodrigo Duterte had said he was willing to set aside the court's ruling if it would get in the way of talks that could see the Philippines and China jointly tapping resources in the contested waters.

Former president Benigno Aquino had planned on using a favourable verdict as a bargaining chip to force China to conclude long-drawn talks on a binding Code of Conduct meant to ease tensions in the region.

Prashanth Parameswaran, a security consultant at Tufts University in the US, warned that the "danger" with  Duterte's soft approach is that it may "not only undermine Philippine interests in terms of its relationship with China, but undercut the regional unity and global solidarity needed to constrain Chinese assertiveness in the South China Sea".

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