Manila, Philippines | Mon, May 3, 2021 | 8.57 pm
The Philippine foreign minister on Monday requested in an expletive-laced message on Twitter that China’s vessels get out of disputed waters, marking the latest exchange in a war of words with Beijing over its activities in the South China Sea. The comments by Teodoro Locsin, notorious for making blunt remarks at times, follow Manila’s protests for what it calls the “illegal” presence of hundreds of Chinese boats within the Philippines 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) (EEZ).
“What do you want to do with our friendship? You’re the one. That is not the case for us. We’re making an effort. You’re the one. You’re like an ugly oaf who insists on focusing his attention on a nice guy who just wants to be friends, not the father of a Chinese province “, said Locsin. A request for comment from China’s embassy in Manila was not immediately returned. The vessels at the contested Whitsun Reef, according to Chinese officials, were fishing boats seeking shelter from rough seas.
China claims almost the entire South China Sea, which sees around $3 trillion in annual ship traffic. An arbitration tribunal in The Hague ruled in 2016 that Beijing’s allegation, which was based on old maps, was illegal under international law. The Philippine foreign ministry accused China’s coast guard of “shadowing, blocking, risky manoeuvres, and radio challenges of Philippine coast guard vessels” in a statement released on Monday.
The Chinese boats, according to Philippine officials, are staffed by militia. In response to China’s demand that it avoid conduct that could escalate conflicts, the Philippines pledged on Sunday to resume maritime exercises in its EEZ in the South China Sea. As of April 26, the Philippines had filed 78 diplomatic protests to China since President Rodrigo Duterte took office in 2016, foreign ministry data shows.
“Our statements are also stronger because of the more blatant nature of the operations, the number, frequency, and proximity of intrusions,” said Marie Yvette Banzon-Abalos, the foreign ministry’s executive director for strategic communications. For the most part, Duterte has sought closer relations with China in return for billions of dollars in investment, funding, and loans from Beijing. Although the Philippine president regards China as a “good friend,” he said last week that “there are some items that are not really subject to compromise.”