Philippines' Duterte skips ASEAN meetings to take 'power naps'

Philippines' Duterte skips ASEAN meetings to take 'power naps'

China is pitted against its smaller neighbors in multiple disputes in the sea over islands, coral reefs and lagoons in waters crucial for global commerce and rich in fish and potential oil and gas reserves. It's now in their hands.

"Everything's been excellent between China and the rest of Asean, except for the fact that there's friction between Western nations and China", he said as he headed into the summit. "If I can I will, if I'm sick I won't", he told reporters after the summit here.

"China is there", he added.

"I do not mind everybody going to war except that the Philippines is just beside those islands and if there's a shooting there, my country will be the first to suffer".

Duterte cited a risk of "serious miscalculation" and potential clashes that could trigger military action based on mutual defense treaties.

China still refuses to acknowledge the July 12, 2016 ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague, Netherlands, invalidating Beijing's sweeping claims to the South China Sea.

China and its Southeast Asian neighbours have reiterated their commitment to work together to avoid confrontation and clashes in the disputed South China Sea, as Beijing also called for greater cooperation on trade.

In recent months, the US Navy has upped the frequency of its Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPs) in the South China Sea.

Negotiations on the COC are expected to face delays because of China's negotiating strategy, which is to "deal with less powerful countries on a one-on-one basis" rather than allow ASEAN nations the benefit of collective bargaining, reports ABC-CBN.

The code was "needed at all cost", he said.

"So you are there, so you are in possession, you have occupied it, but tell us what route we should take, what kind of behavior." he said.

"Countries of South-east Asia don't want to be dominated by any external actor, and we support that", he told reporters.

Josh Rogin later reported that Mr Moon "woke up from his nap" after US Vice-President Mike Pence arrived.

"We will not stand down." he said.

The TPP is still alive even without Washington - and will come into effect in December - but RCEP, if realised, will be the world's biggest trade deal.

Duterte's absence sent rumors once again concerning the Philippine leader's health, although his spokesperson was quick to assure the public that the President "had a fruitful and productive participation" in yesterday's (November 14) activities and that he is "in top physical shape", said Salvador Panelo.

Mr Duterte has barred the Philippine navy from joining United States patrols across the South China Sea, saying he did not want to provoke China.

During the talks, however, China controversially proposed that Southeast Asian states must cease naval exercises and military cooperation with external powers, particularly the U.S. and Japan, in the South China Sea.

Earlier this year, Asean and China declared amid much fanfare that they had concluded a "single draft" for a code of conduct in the South China Sea, raising hopes of a near-term conclusion of the decades-long negotiations.

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