Philippines wants trade, not war

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has been diplomatic in his language over the South China Sea ahead of a visit to China.
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has been diplomatic in his language over the South China Sea ahead of a visit to China. FRANCIS R. MALASIG

PHILIPPINES President Rodrigo Duterte has abandoned his hard-line rhetoric over the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea ahead of a visit to China this week.

In an interview with China's state news agency Xinhua, he said: "There is no sense in going to war.

"There is no sense fighting over a body of water.

"We want to talk about friendship, we want to talk about co-operation and most of all we want to talk about business.”

Only three months ago the Philippines won a legal victory in The Hague against China's claims in the South China Sea.

Topics:  china philippines spratly islands dispute

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