President Duterte on Sunday promised that the donation of some 600,000 doses of China’s Sinovac vaccine will not affect the geopolitical issues in the South China Sea, where Beijing has increasingly become aggressive in pursuing its claims.
“That’s a matter of geopolitics. I have made a declaration that we will adopt an independent foreign policy,” the President said in a media briefing after the turnover of Sinovac to the Philippines.
Duterte, however, admitted that he assured China that he will not allow the United States to store nuclear armaments here.
“Not because it will antagonize China but because it is in the Philippine Constitution which prohibits the presence of nuclear armaments in the country.”
The Philippines plans to renegotiate the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States a year after the President terminated the accord.
The United States maintained its position in ensuring the safety and freedom of navigation in the highly contested waters of the South China Sea even as China becomes increasingly assertive by passing its new Coast Guard law. The law will allow “all necessary means” to stop foreign vessels in places China claims as its own.
Duterte, whose stance on China has come under fire numerous times during his term, went on Beijing’s defense once more.
“China never asked for anything. China has been giving us everything but never asked anything from us, actually,” he said.