Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte pledged Sunday he won’t “deal” away territory and economic rights ahead of a visit to Beijing, where he would like to patch ties frayed by a row over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

After a state visit to Brunei by President Duterte, He will head to China on Tuesday for a 4-day state visit to boost ties with Beijing and will bring along large business delegation in an offer to secure Chinese investment.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte

The Philippine President said that there will be no bargaining with China on the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) issue, he noted that the constitution does not allow him to give up the Philippines’ territorial claims.

Duterte said, “We will stick to our claim. We do not bargain anything. We will continue to insist what is ours,” and I would also raise with Chinese President Xi Jinping a ruling by an international tribunal that outlawed Beijing’s claim to most of the South China Sea, including waters close to the Philippine coast.”

Duterte said, “I will be very careful not to bargain anything for, after all, I cannot give what is not mine and which I am not empowered to do by any stretch of imagination.”

“When you go there, you want to talk. Remember there are only two options, we go to trouble or we talk. We can choose the path there in between,” Duterte said.

“The (international tribunal) decision will be taken up but there will be no hard impositions. We will talk, we will maybe paraphrase everything in the judgment and set the limits of our territories, the special economic zones,” he added.

Duterte had before pledged not to “insult or display” the July ruling as he expects to improve trade and investment ties, which some critics cautioned could involve surrendering exclusive economic rights to the sea to Manila’s powerful neighbor. - JCE.