President Duterte has — apparently in jest — suggested that China should annex the Philippines as a province.
“If you want, just make us a province, like Fujian,” he said in a speech today (Monday, February 19) at an anniversary celebration of the Chinese Business Club.
“Province of Philippines, Republic of China,” he added, to applause from the audience of Filipino-Chinese businessmen.
The president made the joke after saying Chinese President Xi Jinping had personally promised not to build any structures on Scarborough Shoal.
“They assured us they will not build anything there in Scarborough Shoal,” he said. “I believe it because that is China’s commitment to me. Xi Jinping himself said it and he’s a man of honour.”
He also said that negotiations for joint oil explorations between Beijing and the Philippines were already underway.
“Because the oil, it’s joint exploration, we will have the biggest share,” he said. “Two-thirds will be ours, one-third yours.”
Duterte also conceeded that Beijing was building “military bases” in the South China Sea, but said it would be “silly” to think that China would use them against the Philippines.
“Military bases, I must admit it, but is it intended for us? You must be joking. It’s not intended for us,” he said.
“It’s really intended for those who China thinks will destroy them and that is America, but we aren’t part of that.
“There’s negotiations for joint exploration. Can you beat that? Just ignore the missiles there, it’s not intended for us.”
The president also downplayed China’s controversial decision to name five undersea features in the Philippine Rise — a maritime region to the north east of the Philippines formerly known as Benham Rise.
However, he maintained that any resources, such as oil, found in the continental shelf would belong to the Philippines.
“If they say there is a lot of oil there, fine. Remember, that is ours. The whole of the South China Sea, you have already claimed it. But this Philippine Rise is ours,” he said.