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South China Sea

Duterte faces China dilemma over 'militia' in South China Sea

Philippine president avoids criticizing Beijing, hoping for pandemic aid

After  sparring between Chinese and Philippine officials over dozens of Chinese ships in the disputed South China Sea, President Rodrigo Duterte has sought to ease tensions. (Nikkei montage/Reuters)

MANILA -- After a heated verbal tussle between Philippine and Chinese officials over dozens of Chinese ships moored in the disputed South China Sea, President Rodrigo Duterte dialed down the rhetoric on Tuesday.

"Whatever differences we have with China ... it will not be an obstacle to the overall positive trajectory of our bilateral friendly relations and our deepening cooperation [in the] pandemic response, including vaccine cooperation, and in [the] post pandemic economic recovery," Duterte said in a statement read by his spokesperson.

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