China in possession of South China Sea? ‘That’s a reality,’ says Palace
While it is “a reality” that China is “in possession” of the South China Sea, Malacañang clarifies that it does not mean ownership.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo issued the statement on Tuesday as he defended the remarks of President Rodrigo Duterte that China is “already in possession of the South China Sea.”
Duterte made the statement during his attendance to the 33rd Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit in Singapore last week.
“I said China is already in possession. It’s now in their hands. So why do you have to create frictions, strong military activity that will prompt a response from China?” he told reporters.
“That’ a reality,” Panelo said in an interview over ABS-CBN News Channel on Tuesday.
Panelo, however, said that while China was in possession of the South China Sea, it did not mean that the Asian superpower owns the area.
“No. Not necessarily. When you occupy a certain property does not mean you own it. You’re a possessor of that property but it does not mean ownership,” he said.
Duterte also told reporters during the Asean Summit that he wanted no military drills in the disputed sea.
“What he is saying is, we have to exercise self-restraint because any conflict that arises in that region will definitely affect us, as I said earlier, it could be inflaming collateral damage or creating inferno,” he said.
“Why? Because U.S. keeps provoking China and I don’t think China will just sit down and be idle. It will have to do something about it,” he added.
If tension explodes in the South China Sea, Panelo said “the first country that will be affected will be us due to the proximity between the two countries.” /muf
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