CHINA and the Philippines ought to “fulfill halfway” on the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea) problem, President Rodrigo Duterte stated following reports of stepped up Chinese activity on the disputed islands.
There were reports that hundreds of Chinese vessels were seen near Pag-asa (Thitu) Island and Kota (Loaita) Island in the past month.
Today, there was a report that the Chinese were also harvesting taklobo, or giant clams, at the challenged Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal.
Speaking at the project rally of the ruling PDP-Laban party in Batangas City on Wednesday night, Duterte once again slammed his critics, stating the country needs to challenge China for its activities.
He, however, said that while the nation would still stay on the safe side of China, the Chinese must not make any relocation that would trigger problem.
” These idiots, they desire me to challenge China. If I do that, there will be a massacre. Their planes can reach Manila in 14 minutes. They can bomb us to the heavens. We can not oppose [them], just,” according to the President.
” So, we can only tell stories for now. But there will be a time, and I will inform China now that they ought to likewise meet halfway. Like, for our fishermen and [their move] to surround the Pag-asa,” he stated.
Duterte cautioned China not to touch Pag-asa Island due to the fact that the Philippines had soldiers there.
” Do not surround it due to the fact that I have soldiers there. I am warning, not threatening them. However it could precipitate problem there. If a soldier passes away, even one, that will be trouble,” he said.
The President added that he might not combat China in the meantime because no foreign country would have the ability to assist the Philippines.
Duterte said he questioned that America would let loose a nuclear war against China for the sake of the Philippines.
He repeated that the maritime situation started during the Aquino administration.
” There was a standoff then. The ships of China came and we yielded. America requested for a settlement so there will be no trouble. It told us to withdraw. Both nations concurred. We withdrew, however China did not leave. That is what took place there,” Duterte stated.
” Return to the time of [then-President Benigno] Aquino [3rd] The standoff occurred throughout [his] time. They asked the Philippines to retreat. China agreed, but they did not honor it. That’s the problem. Then they blame me. I will not enter into a war, they will simply kill my police officers,” he added.
‘ Aimed at US’
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Friday stated China’s recovery activities and militarization of the South China Sea were targeted at the United States and not directed at the Philippines.
” Nope, it is focused on the United States,” Locsin stated on Twitter in reply to a netizen’s view that China’s recovery of islands and atolls in the contested sea would act as deterrence for weaker countries, not the United States.
In another tweet, he added, “In the UN, I said the Philippines wants to environment modification and the melting of the ice caps to raise water level and swallow the challenged maritime features that are offering China deceptions of splendour and irritation to us.”
China took control of many parts of the disputed locations in the South China Sea in 2015 through improvement works and construction of military facilities on reefs and islets being declared by both Manila and Beijing.
In May 2018, China deployed rockets in a few of the islets and reefs being claimed by the Philippines such as the Kagitingan (Fiery Cross) Reef, Zamora (Subi) Reef and Panganiban (Mischief) Reef– all within the Philippines’ special financial zone.
The Department of Foreign Affairs chief agreed with the tip of one Twitter user for the nation to make preparations for the country.
” Tama ka (You’re right). But it should be said that while the United States poured military hardware into other countries like Pakistan, and not to mention Europe– which will not fight for itself, it provided us next to nothing however one gutted boat,” Locsin said.
On the other hand, he added, he would not let the Philippines go to war with China over the harvesting of giant clams by Chinese fishers in the South China Sea.
” We had no idea there were clams there and actually I will not let this nation go down to war and lose an useful financial partner simply over environmental concerns for a world I care nothing about. I care only for my individuals,” he stated.
Locsin’s remark did not sit well with one netizen, who said that his statement was an insult to National Artist Edgardo Gomez, who devoted his life to informing Filipinos about the worth of the nation’s reef.
To which Locsin replied: “Helpful for him, however I am not decreasing as ‘the clam and coral guy.’ And well deserved it is. My concern is regional: What is ours as national territory and under international law of which The Hague choice is now an indelible part.”
“We opposed, but I declined to enter into scuba equipment and cover my arms around clams. By the way, I dislike clams,” Locsin said.