No need to be nasty, Duterte tells Chinese patrols
The President reiterated his call on the Chinese not to be hostile to Filipinos, at the convention of the Hugpong ng Pagbabago in Davao City last Friday.
AP/Bullit Marquez/File

No need to be nasty, Duterte tells Chinese patrols

Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) - August 19, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — With the Philippines and China supposedly friends, the Chinese military does not have to be “nasty” by threatening Filipinos conducting maritime patrols in the West Philippine Sea especially around the Spratlys where the Chinese had built and militarized artificial islands, President Duterte said.

The President reiterated his call on the Chinese not to be hostile to Filipinos, at the convention of the Hugpong ng Pagbabago in Davao City last Friday.

“You cannot create islands there and claim the sea. That is not an island. Artificial islands are not pro – are prohibited in the middle sea. That’s the rule there,” he said.

Duterte, who has charted a friendly foreign policy with Beijing, said China should not abuse its good relations with the Philippines. He had openly gushed at Chinese President Xi Jinping’s “kindness” and professed his “love” for the Chinese leader.

“Just because we are friends, huwag mo na kaming (don’t tell us – Filipinos), ‘go out there or that is your responsibility if anything will happen.’” he said. “You know very well that we will not attack anybody there. And we are a claimant of the group of islands.”

In his remarks at the Hugpong convention, Duterte again mentioned the futility of challenging China’s military might, stressing he doesn’t want to pick a fight.

“And we are not – I told you we are not prepared to go to war with you, so why do you have to say those nasty words? There’s no need for that, we are your friend,” he said.

Duterte had also brought up the issue at an event attended by the country’s top businessmen and diplomats, as well as US Ambassador Kim Sung, at Rizal Hall in Malacañang.

This prompted China’s foreign ministry to issue a statement maintaining that the Spratly Islands are China’s inherent territory and it has the right to warn intruders or potential enemies.

“China has a right to take necessary steps to respond to foreign aircraft and ships that deliberately get close to or make incursions into the airs and waters near China’s relevant islands, and provocative actions that threaten the security of Chinese personnel stationed there,” it added.

China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei have competing claims in the Spratly archipelago, where China has rapidly turned reefs into artificial islands that are now military installations with weapons system and large airstrips.

In Washington, the Pentagon said Chinese plans to power its artificial islands in the  South China Sea with floating nuclear power stations may add a nuclear element to the territorial dispute in the vital waterway.

It said in 2017 China indicated development plans may be underway to power islands and reefs in the typhoon-prone South China Sea with floating nuclear power stations. 

“Development reportedly is to begin prior to 2020,” the Pentagon’s 2018 China Military Report to the US Congress said.

It said China’s outpost expansion effort is currently focused on Fiery Cross, Subi and Mischief reefs in the Spratly islands chain capable of supporting military operations. 

China has completed shore-based infrastructure on four smaller outposts in the Spratlys – Mabini (Johnson South), (Burgos) Gaven, Hughes and Cuarteron reefs.

China has stated these projects are mainly for improving the living and working conditions of those stationed on the outposts, safety of navigation, and research.

However, China could be attempting to bolster its de facto control by improving military and civilian infrastructure in the South China Sea, the report said.

Airfields, berthing areas, and resupply facilities will allow the Chinese to maintain a more flexible and persistent coast guard and military presence in the area, improving China’s ability to detect and challenge activities by rival claimants or third parties, widen the range of capabilities available to it and reduce the time required to deploy them, the report said.

China claims almost all of the South China Sea and to reinforce its sovereignty has been reclaiming land on and around reefs and shoals to construct artificial islands which are then militarized. – Jose Katigbak

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