President Duterte has said that China was “already in possession” of the South China Sea — and US military drills were just creating “frictions”.
The president made the statement on the last day of the 33rd Association of Southeast Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Singapore today (Thursday, November 15).
The president told reporters that foreign nations should “count the Philippines out” if they were planning to go to war over the disputed waters.
“No, because — it’s not military drills because I said China is already in possession. It’s now in their hands. So why do you have to create frictions — strong — military activity that will prompt a response from China?
“I do not mind everybody going to war, except that the Philippines is just beside those islands. And if there’s a shooting there, my country will be the first to suffer. That’s my only in — that is my only national interest there. Nothing else,” he said.
China claims nearly all of the South China Sea, through which US$3 trillion of trade passes every year.
The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have claims to the waters.
South China Sea code of conduct
The president also vowed to push for the completion of a Code of Conduct (COC) to govern the use of the maritime region.
“I’m the country coordinator for ASEAN-China. I will try my best. I made a very strong statement yesterday about the urgent need for a COC so that everybody will know,” he said.
But he stressed that other countries should accept the fact of Beijing’s presence. “China is there. That’s a reality and America and everybody should realise that they are there.
“So if you just keep on creating friction, little friction, one day a bad miscalculation could turn things — Murphy’s Law. If anything can go wrong, it will go wrong.”
The Department of Foreign Affairs has previously said that the COC was not intended to resolve the disputes among the claimants, but rather to “manage incidents, prevent incidents from happening that may escalate or create situations that may complicate peace and stability in the region”.
Meanwhile, two US aircraft carriers with about 150 fighter jets are conducting “complex” warfare drills in the Philippine Sea.
The two carriers, the Japan-based USS Ronald Reagan and the USS John C Stennis deployed from the US West coast, are conducting air, surface and anti-submarine warfare operations, the US Seventh Fleet has said in a news statement.
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Straight from the Chinese parrot's mouth.#PilipinasGotTraitors#ChinaPuppet#Makapili#WestPHSea#NoToTeamChina 🇨🇳
Posted by Philippines Defense Forces Forum on Thursday, November 15, 2018