President Duterte said he would not withdraw official ships from disputed areas in the South China Sea, even if China “kills” him.
During a meeting on May 14, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana told President Rodrigo Duterte that the Philippines is deploying two official ships in the South China Sea area. These ships sailed around Mischief Reef and Thi Tu cluster in the Spratly archipelago of Vietnam.
“I want to inform China that on May 2, two of our ships are there. I will not withdraw. Philippine ships will not retreat an inch,” President Duterte said. “I will not retreat. If you want to kill, I will wait here. That’s when our friendship ends.”
The Chinese Embassy in Manila has not yet commented on Duterte’s report.
China and the Philippines raised sovereignty claims and illegally occupied some features in the Spratly Islands of Vietnam. China unilaterally drew up the “nine-dash line” and claimed nearly 90% of the East Sea.
The Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in 2016 rejected the “historical sovereignty” claim that China used to claim the “nine-dash line”. However, China does not recognize this ruling.
President Duterte strengthened the Philippines’ friendly relations with China after taking power in 2016, even ignoring the PCA’s ruling in exchange for economic aid and investment from Beijing. “I don’t want war with China, that’s what I hate the most. I repeat that we have a huge debt of gratitude,” Duterte said.
Tensions in the South China Sea have escalated since early March when more than 200 Chinese ships from March 7 anchored at Ba Dau Shoal in the territory of Sinh Ton Dong island in the Spratly archipelago of Vietnam, where the Philippines also claims. sovereignty. The Chinese ships then spread to other areas in the Spratlys and then withdrew.
The Philippines believes that the fishing boats are operated by “Chinese maritime militia”. China denies the accusations, saying it is a “fishing vessel” that is anchored to avoid bad weather, despite the fact that these ships have been anchored for many days in the area and do not fish despite favorable weather.
The patrol force of the South China Sea task force of the Philippines said that as of May 9, a total of 287 Chinese ships were present near the Spratly Islands, in which larger groups of ships appeared on artificial islands. China illegally built in this area.
Vietnamese authorities always closely monitor developments in the East Sea and protect and exercise national sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction over Vietnam’s seas, in accordance with Vietnamese laws and regulations. provisions of international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) 1982,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang said at a regular press conference on May 13, when asked. About 300 Chinese ships are present in the Spratlys.
Hang affirmed that Vietnam has sufficient historical evidence and legal basis to assert its sovereignty over the Truong Sa archipelago in accordance with international law. “As a coastal state and a member of UNCLOS 1982, Vietnam enjoys sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction over its waters established in accordance with UNCLOS,” added Ms. Hang.
Nguyen Tien (According to the ABS-CBN)