July 27, 2020 / 10:18 AM / 8 days ago

Philippines' Duterte says cannot confront China over maritime claims

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte speaks during his State of the Nation Address at the plenary hall of the House of Representatives in Quezon City, Philippines July 27, 2020. Presidential Photos/via REUTERS. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES.

MANILA (Reuters) - Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday said he had no choice but to treat disputes in the South China Sea as diplomatic endeavours because the alternative was to go to war with China.

Duterte was speaking in defence of his government’s decision not to press a 2016 decision by the Permanent Court of Arbitration, which went in favour of the Philippines in a case against China.

During his annual address to the nation, Duterte said China was in possession of territory that his country did not have the capability to challenge militarily, adding “we cannot go to war”.

Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales and Karen Lema; Writing by Martin Petty; Editing by Ed Davies

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