Duterte clarifies minister's remarks on S China Sea
25 Feb 2017 - 1:11
Manila: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said yesterday he was not sure why China's commerce minister had cancelled a trip to his country, and that Beijing misunderstood his foreign minister's comments about its militarisation in the South China Sea.
On Tuesday, Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay, the chairman of a meeting of foreign ministers of the Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean), said the region had "grave concerns" about China putting weapons installations on its manmade islands in the Spratlys.
"The problem is I think Secretary Yasay was misunderstood by the Chinese government," Duterte said in a speech.
"I would like to assure China, and this is what I had committed to do when I was there, that we will talk as friends," he said, referring to a trip he made to China last year.
China's Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng decided at the last minute to postpone an official trip on Thursday to the Philippines to sign about 40 joint projects worth billions of dollars. No reason was given by either side.