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Philippines ‘not taking sides’ in China-US trade war but wants Beijing to ‘defend the East’

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President Rodrigo R. Duterte and People's Republic of China President Xi Jinping pose for a photo following a bilateral meeting at the Boao State Guesthouse on April 10, 2018. — ACE MORANDANTE/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

By Arjay L. Balinbin, Reporter

President Rodrigo R. Duterte, in his bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Hainan, China on Tuesday, April 10, said the Philippine government is not taking sides in the ongoing trade war between China and the United States (US), Presidential Spokesperson Herminio Harry L. Roque, Jr. announced on Wednesday, April 11.

“We do not take sides in the ongoing or possible trade war between China and the United states. The president, nonetheless, had positive words to say to that effect that it’s high time for China to protect the East,” the spokesman said in a press conference in Hong Kong on Wednesday evening.

The spokesman explained that during the bilateral meeting, everybody “was talking” about globalization and trade liberalization. “Of course, Asia was benefiting greatly from globalization and liberalization,” he said.

Mr. Roque pointed out that Mr. Duterte’s statement, saying that Beijing should protect the East, “was an endorsement of the Chinese position that the world trading system should be governed by rules-based WTO (World Trade Organization) system and that there should be no obstacles to further globalization and liberalization.”

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For his part, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter S. Cayetano said: “If the US is sneezing and China is coughing, definitely the Philippines will somehow be susceptible to the flu.”

“But there are flu shots already available. Our economic team is trying to bulletproof our economy, but there is no such thing as completely bulletproofing an economy. We are hoping that this so-called trade war will be short-lived and that it doesn’t affect us too much,” he added.

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