MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines is not taking any side in the ongoing spat between China and the United States, but President Rodrigo Duterte endorses Beijing’s position that advocates for trade liberalism, said Malacañang.
“We do not take sides [in] the ongoing or possible trade war between China and the United States,” said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Wednesday, April 11.
He was giving a press conference in Hong Kong a day after Duterte’s participation at the Boao Forum for Asia and bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Many fear that the simmering trade row between the US and China could become a full-blown trade war. While Duterte is not siding with anyone, Roque said the Philippine leader agrees with Xi’s advocacy for unimpeded globalization.
“The President nonetheless had positive words to say to that effect, that it’s high time for China to protect the east and the cause of trade liberalism at this time and age,” said Roque.
Duterte made these remarks during the bilateral meeting with Xi on the sidelines of the Boao Forum for Asia, where the Chinese leader vowed to further open China’s economy.
Duterte, said Roque, had himself emphasized during the meeting that he was not taking a side but that he pointed out the need to “further strengthen globalization” and “speed up trade liberalization to benefit everyone rather than a return to isolationist trade policies.”
“It was an endorsement of [the] Chinese position that the world trading system is governed by [the] rules-based WTO (World Trade Organization) system and that there should be no obstacles to further globalization and liberalization,” said Roque.
Duterte’s meeting with Xi comes amid tit-for-tat tariffs between Beijing and Washington and mutual threats of more levies on hundreds of billions of dollars worth of products that have raised fears of a trade war that could lacerate the global economy. – with a report from Agence France-Presse / Rappler.com
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