Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Duterte slams China over island



Duterte slams China over island

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte has said he does not want to ‘quarrel’ with China. AFp

Duterte slams China over island

PHILIPPINE President Rodrigo Duterte has urged China to “temper” its behaviour in the South China Sea in a rare criticism of the Asian superpower over its program of island-building in disputed waters.

China has alarmed and angered its neighbours by claiming dominion over most of the South China Sea and building a string of artificial islands and military airbases.

But the outspoken Duterte – keen to court trade and investment from Beijing – has mostly withheld criticism.

In a change of tone, Duterte said in a speech late Tuesday to business entrepreneurs that China had no right to claim airspace above man-made islands.

Philippine officials have claimed military pilots are repeatedly warned off by Beijing as their planes approach Philippine-held Thitu island, which lies beside a Chinese air base built on top of Subi Reef.

“You cannot create an island. It’s man-made and you say that the air above this artificial island is yours,” Duterte said, according to a transcript released by the presidential palace Wednesday.

“That is wrong because those waters are what [one] would consider international sea. And the right of innocent passage is guaranteed,” said Duterte, who did not refer to any specific incident. He added that he did not want to “quarrel” with China.

The comments follow allegations in May of Chinese harassment of Filipino troops at another South China Sea garrison.

Duterte’s national security adviser Hermogenes Esperon told reporters at the time that the Philippines could go to war “if our people are hurt there”.

There was no immediate response from the Chinese embassy in Manila.

In May China landed several combat aircraft – including the long-range, nuclear-capable H-6K – at another island airfield in the sea for the first time, triggering international concern. Despite this, it has denied militarising the area, through which roughly a third of all global maritime trade passes.

An international maritime tribunal ruled early in Duterte’s presidency in 2016 that China’s claims to the area have no legal basis.

The Philippines is a military ally of the US, which says it is not taking sides in the various South China Sea territorial disputes.

However, the US navy has forcefully asserted its right to freedom of navigation in the area, repeatedly sailing close to the man-made islands and drawing Chinese protests.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hun Sen: Full country reopening to be decided in two weeks

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has announced that if the Covid-19 situation remains stable for 15 consecutive days from the end of the October 5-7 Pchum Ben public holiday, Cambodia will reopen fully, albeit in the context of Covid-19 whereby people have to adjust their lives to

  • Cambodia sets new Covid-19 quarantine rules

    The government has modified Covid-19 quarantine requirements, shortening the duration for, among others, Cambodian officials, foreign diplomats and delegations, investors and inbound travellers in general. According to an official notice signed by Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng late on October 16, quarantine length for Cambodian

  • Will Evergrande change the way Chinese developers do business in Cambodia?

    China’s property sector policy has exposed the grim financial condition of real estate developers including those operating in Cambodia, which raises questions over the viability of their projects and business going forward The dark blue netting draping over one of Yuetai Group Co Ltd’

  • Phnom Penh governor: Show Covid-19 vaccination cards, or else

    Phnom Penh municipal governor Khuong Sreng late on October 5 issued a directive requiring all people aged 18 and over and the parents of children aged 6-17 to produce Covid-19 vaccination cards when entering schools, markets, malls, marts, eateries and other business establishments that have been permitted

  • Cambodia seeks probe into 'false reports' on Hun Sen's alleged Cypriot passport

    Minister of Justice Koeut Rith on September 6 wrote a letter to his Cypriot counterpart Stephie Dracos requesting cooperation in investigating and providing the truth in relation to the "exaggerative and false allegations" that Prime Minister Hun Sen holds a Cypriot passport. In his letter, the

  • 'Pandora Papers' expose leaders' offshore millions

    More than a dozen heads of state and government, from Jordan to Azerbaijan, Kenya and the Czech Republic, have used offshore tax havens to hide assets worth hundreds of millions of dollars, according to a far-reaching new investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (