Duterte Says China Vaccines Won’t Affect Philippines’ Sea Claims

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said he will not compromise the nation’s South China Sea claims over coronavirus vaccines from China.

“We accepted the vaccines, but it doesn’t mean that I will forget our claims to the West Philippine Sea,” Duterte said in a televised address Monday night, referring to the portion of the South China Sea claimed by his country.

Duterte said Chinese President Xi Jinping didn’t ask anything in return when the Philippine leader asked for vaccine aid from China during a phone conversation.

The Southeast Asian nation has sourced most of its Covid-19 vaccines from China, and is expecting deliveries of 5 million doses of Sinovac Biotech Ltd.’s shots through June. On Monday night, it received 193,000 doses of Pfizer Inc. vaccines from the Covax facility.

The government can vaccinate as many as 25 million people by June or July, and is on track to inoculate 50 to 70 million people by the end of the year, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez said at the same briefing.

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