‘Chinese invasion will be bloody’
CAMP CAPINPIN, Rizal―President Duterte said on Wednesday he hoped that China was dealing with Manila in good faith over the West Philippine Sea, warning that “it will be bloody” should talks collapse and Beijing attempts to take over the country.
“But I am sure, I guarantee to them that if you invade our country, it will be bloody. And we will not give it to them easily. It will be the bones of our soldiers, and you can include my own,” Mr. Duterte said as he addressed Jungle Fighters in Camp Capinpin.
But Mr. Duterte was quick to point out that China now “seems to be conciliatory” after a UN-backed arbitral tribunal last month found in favor of the Philippines and invalidated Beijing’s claim to the whole of the West Philippine Sea, also called South China Sea.
“Whether we like it or not, that arbitral judgment would be insisted [on] not only by the Philippines but by the whole countries in Southeast Asia. Everybody is affected,” he said, citing Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei.
He noted that even the United States was prodding the Philippines to insist that the ruling be enforced.
“But we will chart our own course to the national interest of this country,” the President said.
He stressed the Philippines was prepared to defend its territories if bilateral negotiations fail.
“We will not allow any country to bamboozle us. I will not allow [it],” he said. “So it’s up to China.”
According to Mr. Duterte, China’s offer to build rehabilitation centers inside military camps and host a visit by the country’s police chief to look at armaments against drugs was a welcome peace overture. But it should not get in the way of enforcing the ruling.
“We will not raise hell now because of the judgment, but there will come a time that we have to do some reckoning about this,” he stressed.
Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. reiterated Wednesday that China’s reclamation activities in the disputed waters should immediately cease, saying Beijing’s artificial islands violated international laws on protecting the biodiverse region.
“For the international community, the red line is that this should be stopped. Right now, there should be no further reclamation activities,” Yasay told the Senate foreign relations committee, noting the risks it posed not just to freedom of navigation but on the environment.
Yasay said China’s rapid expansion in the disputed waters has also “impacted negatively on the health and balance of the environment of this area.”
He said fellow Southeast Asian countries have already expressed “serious concern” over Chinese reclamation.
China has reclaimed seven features, including rocks and low-tide elevations in the disputed waters, including those within the Philippines’ 370-km exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
Some of the artificial islands have been turned into naval and air bases. These include the Kagitingan (Fiery Cross) Reef, Mabini (Johnson) Reef, Chigua (McKennan) Reef, Calderon (Cuarteron) Reef, Zamora (Subi) Reef, and the Panganiban (Mischief) Reef.
However, he said the Philippines would maintain its “friendship” with China, but it does not mean “that we’ll weaken our friendship with the United States.”
“We’re just saying that in spite of our disputes, as regards China on the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea), there are other aspects of our relationship that can proceed without having to touch upon the South China Sea issue,” Yasay said. With a report from the wires
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