President Duterte has accused the USA of having a “provocative stance” on the South China Sea, adding that its previous “inaction” was the root cause of current tensions.
The president also described US Navy patrols as a “miscalculation” that could spark war, and accused Obama of pressuring the Philippines to take a stand against China, without any guarantee of military support.
“You go there in the pretence of challenging them?” he said of the US patrols. “One single solitary shot, it could lead to an explosion and it could lead to a war and it will be a slaughter.”
The president makes no secret of his grudge against his country’s oldest ally. In this latest outburst he said that Although America was bound by a treaty to protect the Philippines, it had done nothing when China started building in the country’s territorial waters.
“Why in hell, America, the only one who can act there, why did it want my navy to go there? It will be a massacre for my soldiers,” he told an audience of lawyers.
“Why did you not, the first instance, go to Chinese working there, building structures there?
“Why did you not reprimand them? Why did you not send five aircraft carriers? And you had to wait for the problem to ripen to an international issue involving, this time, so many countries.
“You could have nipped the problem in the bud, had you taken decisive action.”
His comments follow concerns that China was planning to build environmental monitoring stations in disputed waters, including on the Scarborough Shoal. Yesterday, we reported that China has dismissed this claim as false.
In stark contrast to his tirade against Washington, the president did not level any criticism at Beijing, which has consistently flouted a Hague tribunal ruling that confirmed Philippine rights over parts of the disputed waters occupied by China.
His overtures towards a country long seen by Manila as a maritime aggressor represent a huge shift in foreign policy.
Recalling his remarks at an October meeting with Chinese premier Xi Jinping, he said the two had a lot in common. “I decided to change a little bit our foreign policy,” he said.
“Why is it that we are too far from trade and commerce with China? I went to China, and said ‘I don’t like Americans, we’re the same. I came to shake your hand and if I can have participation in trade and commerce’.”
He has also invited China to send a battleship to visit the Philippines, while studiously ignoring American vessels currently in the area.
The president also said it was pointless trying to challenge China’s militarisation of its manmade islands and ridiculed the media for believing a comment he made during his election campaign, when he threatened to ride a jet-ski to a disputed island and plant a Philippine flag there.
“We cannot stop them because they are building it with their mind fixed that they own the place. China will go to war,” he said.
“People want me to jet ski. These fools believed me.”