> When it come to prickly issues with China, not a lot trumps the South China Sea. Beijing claims practically the entire area and doesn't want anyone else coming close. For now that includes the Philippines, but sources close to Beijing say that could all be about to change.
Philippine's president, Rodgrigo Duterte, is on an official visit to China, and as Reuter's Ben Blanchard reports, a major revelation could be on the cards.>> Sources have told Reuter's that one of the things being considered by China is allowing Philippine fishermen to go back and fish again around the disputed Scarborough Shoal.
Now Scarborough Shoal is somewhere that's geographically much closer to the Philippine mainland than to the Chinese mainland, but it's part of what China says is its inalienable territorial rights in the South China Sea.>> The Philippines has largely been the focus of Beijing's anger over the South China Sea after Manila took a case to an international court in the Haag which rejected China's sweeping claims.
So, why is there now talk of concessions? One likely reason, Duterte's charm offensive in China's direction as he continues to distance himself from the United States.>> China's been very keen to be seen to be responding positively to the overtures from President Duterte, and is welcoming him with open arms.
But as to what this means more broadly for the China-Philippines relationship and, of course, the Philippines-US relationship, it's still very up in the air. President Duterte says many different things about his alliance with the United States. And it's unclear at the moment as to what exactly, ultimately, his goal is in terms of China.
>> Beijing authorities wouldn't say what the conditions would be if Philippine fishermen were allowed near Scarborough Shoal. But that in itself would be a dramatic turnaround. At a time when lines of allegiance may be shifting in the sands of the South China Sea.