(Bloomberg) -- Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte defended Xi Jinping after accusations the Chinese leader committed crimes against humanity with his country’s actions in the South China Sea, drawing a praise from China.
Duterte said the International Criminal Court in The Hague, where two former Philippine officials have sued Xi, doesn’t have any authority over China. Duterte also assured that the two nations’ relationship remained warm.
“I would say that there is no jurisdiction over this country, and especially over China,” Duterte told reporters Thursday night. “China is not a member of the International Criminal Court.” The complaint was filed on March 13, four days before the Philippines withdrew from the ICC that’s been probing thousands of deaths in Duterte’s drug war.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang responded to the complaint by applauding Duterte’s defense of Xi and describing the situation in the disputed sea as “stable and heading for the better.” “A few individuals in the Philippines cannot stir up big trouble,” Geng said at a regular briefing.
Former Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario and ex-Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales filed a complaint before the ICC, accusing Xi of crimes against humanity for implementing China’s “systematic plan to control” the sea. They alleged that Xi “undermined the food and energy security” of other nations and caused “devastating destruction of the environment.”China and the Philippines have overlapping claims over parts of the South China Sea, through which vast amounts of trade passes and which holds promising oil and natural gas reserves. Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also claim parts of the maritime area.Vietnam is also demanding compensation from China after a Chinese coastguard ship fired water cannon at Vietnamese fishermen near Paracel Islands on March 6, eventually sinking the vessel, according to a report by Vietnam News. China’s Foreign Ministry said that the Vietnamese boat was already sinking when the incident happened. China also urged Vietnam to stop “illegal” fishing.Manila won an arbitration case against Beijing in July 2016 which nullified China’s expansive claims over the sea. But Duterte has set the ruling aside, opting to forge closer ties with China and tap its loans for infrastructure projects.Why the South China Sea Fuels U.S.-China Tensions: QuickTake
(Updates with China’s comments in fourth paragraph.)
--With assistance from John Boudreau and Peter Martin.
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