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'Megaphone' diplomacy needed to stand up to China's 'gunboat' diplomacy â senator
In this undated handout photo received from the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) on April 25, 2021, coast guard personnel conduct maritime exercise near Pag-asa island in the West Philippine Sea.
AFP/Philippine Coast Guard, Released

'Megaphone' diplomacy needed to stand up to China's 'gunboat' diplomacy — senator

(Philstar.com) - May 5, 2021 - 12:17pm

MANILA, Philippines — Manila should continue to expose Beijing's illegal actions in the West Philippine Sea, a senator said Wednesday after the regional power's foreign ministry cautioned the Philippines against what it called "megaphone" diplomacy. 

"I would rather that we continue with the megaphone diplomacy because of the gunboat diplomacy of China," Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said in an interview with ANC's Headstart. "The only available peaceful means to us is to keep the issue in the forefront." 

"We must continue to expose these illegal acts of China. That is why megaphone diplomacy as the Chinese foreign minister would call it is maybe the appropriate course that we have today so that we can keep China on its toes insofar as the international forum is concerned." 

READ: China coast guard ships illegally remain in West Philippine Sea — task force

What is this about? 

China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin on Tuesday urged a "certain individual from the Philippines" to "mind basic manners and act in ways that suit his status," after the Philippines' top diplomat told Beijing to "get the fuck out" of Philippine waters amid continuing reports of its incursions. 

"Facts have proven time and time again that megaphone diplomacy can only undermine mutual trust rather than change reality," Wang said. 

He also repeated China's claim that it has jurisdiction over Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal — which it calls Huangyan Island — and its adjacent waters.

"[M]egaphone diplomacy as the Chinese foreign minister would call it is maybe the appropriate course that we have today so that we can keep China on its toes insofar as the international forum is concerned," Drilon said.

"They keep on confronting us with arms in the [West Philippine Sea], driving away our fishermen, ramming a fishing boat. We should keep on reminding the world that China is not following the rule of law but the rule of might in this part of the world." 

Malacañang on Tuesday said Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin apologized to China's envoy to the Philippines Huang Xilian but Locsin has disputed this and said he only apologized to his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi.  

Drilon: Mixed messaging from top officials 'unfortunate' 

But while the Philippines' statements on China's behavior might be key to keeping its incursions at bay, Drilon said that mixed messaging from top officials could undermine this effort. 

"Quite unfortunate, because you have two members of the cabinet, Sec. Locsin and Sec. Lorenzana, taking a strong position on this issue. On the other end of the scale, President Duterte who asserts that we must continue our cordial relations with China."

"This is quite unfortunate that we are talking of different voices," he said. 

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque on Tuesday said cursing among Filipino diplomats would not be allowed by Duterte although the head of state himself frequently curses at nations, world leaders, and international organizations.  

"Only the president can curse, no one else can copy him," Roque said. 

— Bella Perez-Rubio 

CHINA FRANKLIN DRILON SENATE WEST PHILIPPINE SEA
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