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Duterte's 'transactional approach' undermines ASEAN stance on China

By playing down South China Sea dispute, Philippine president weakens bloc's centrality

| Philippines
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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte speaks during the opening ceremony of the 30th ASEAN Summit in Manila on April 29.   © Reuters

Just hours after his inauguration on June 30, 2016, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte nonchalantly declared that he would not "taunt" China with the landmark international ruling supporting his country's arbitration case on the South China Sea. It was a remarkable climbdown for the leader of a country that for years had been at the forefront of diplomatic efforts to constrain Chinese maritime assertiveness in regional waters.

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