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In U-turn, Duterte says China can't fish in Philippines waters

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The Philippines is not waiving its rights to exclusive waters in the South China Sea, President Rodrigo Duterte said Thursday.

[MANILA] The Philippines is not waiving its rights to exclusive waters in the South China Sea, President Rodrigo Duterte said Thursday, walking back on an earlier stance allowing Chinese fishing that some officials said was unconstitutional.

"The President will not relinquish our sovereign rights over our country's exclusive economic zone," Mr Duterte's spokesman Salvador Panelo said in a statement early Thursday, adding the President's decisions are in accordance with the Constitution.

Mr Duterte also spoke to other South-east Asian leaders at the weekend Asean summit about "the dangers of China's vague demarcation line claim" and the need for Beijing to adopt a code of conduct in the disputed sea, Mr Panelo said.

The Philippine leader, in a speech Wednesday night, said he can't stop China from fishing in his country's exclusive waters even if he wants to, claiming that this will only result in a confrontation.

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"If I want to prohibit Chinese fishing, how do I enforce my desire? Even America won't do so out of fear of confrontation there," Mr Duterte said.

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