Duterte rules out opposing China’s military build-up on artificial islands

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Duterte
Duterte meets Chinese President Xi Jinping. File photograph.

President Duterte said the Philippines and China did not need to wage war over the South China Sea when they could share resources there instead.

Duterte made the statement in Cebu yesterday (Saturday, May 19) following Beijing’s announcement yesterday that it had landed long-range nuclear-capable bombers on one of its artificial islands in the disputed waters.

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He said: “China has offered for a joint — someday we will talk about it. We don’t have to fight. We can divide this in a joint development, joint exploration. And then we’ll give you a bigger share rather than fight.”

The president reiterated that going to war against China would only result to the deaths of a lot of Filipino police and soldiers.

“Well, you know they have the planes, not stationed in Spratly but near the provinces facing — Chinese provinces facing the Spratly and the China Sea,” he said. “And with their hypersonic, they can reach Manila within seven to 10 minutes. If we will go to a full-blown war, where would Philippines end up in?

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“Why would I give away the lives of my soldiers and policemen)in a battle which I cannot win? I’m not crazy enough to to let my soldiers die. And besides, China has always been conciliatory,” he said.

Duterte looks to new allies

He added that the Philippines did not have enough resources to wage a war against China. “You know, if we push it, there will be trouble. What will we arm ourselves with if there’s a war? Will we resort to slapping each other?

“You know, based on how few we are — I couldn’t even buy myself a rifle. It was given to me. So how will we even fight with the Chinese?”

However, despite this, the president said that it was China who offered assistance to the Philippines and not America.

“But a lot of projects have already started to come in. If China wasn’t — where would the Americans be if a war did break out? The Chinese are really industrious. Just look. Why are we all colliding now?

“And then we’ll give you a bigger share rather than fight. It’s only America who’s worried because they lost a territory,” he said.

Yesterday, Senator Panfilo Lacson called on the government to act on China’s militarisation of the disputed waters. He said the Philippines could seek the help of its allies to pressure China to stop its military activities. He said it should also insist on adherence to the UN arbitration ruling won by the Philippines in July 2016.

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