Published: Fri, August 17, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Duterte calls on Beijing to 'temper' island building

Duterte calls on Beijing to 'temper' island building

China has alarmed and angered its neighbours by claiming dominion over most of the South China Sea and building a string of artificial islands and military airbases.

All countries comprising the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are biased towards China, President Rodrigo Duterte said Tuesday (August 14).

Addressing China, Duterte said: "You can not create an island".

Duterte said that China should "rethink" of warning other countries from flying the airspace above the artificial island China built in the WPS or South China Sea. "Leave immediately, or you will bear responsibility for all the consequences!" a voice on a radio transmission suspected of coming from the artificial islands was heard saying.

"That is wrong, because those waters are what [one] would consider global sea and the right of innocent passage is guaranteed", said Duterte, who did not refer to any specific incident.

The foreign affairs chief added that he is positive that China, having first suggested the joint exploration, would be willing to accept these terms. He added that "the right of innocent passage is guaranteed".

The comments follow allegations in May of Chinese harassment of Filipino troops at another South China Sea garrison.


Duterte's national security adviser Hermogenes Esperon told reporters at the time that the Philippines could go to war "if our people are hurt there".

During his two years in office, he chose not to explicitly claim Manila's rights over them, by virtue of the favourable ruling of the PCA, in exchange for Chinese investment.

He made the remarks in front of business leaders and diplomats, including U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim, in reaction to recent reports of China warning Philippine military aircraft patrolling near artificial islands in the South China Sea.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration in July 2016 ruled that China's claims to the area have no legal basis.

"Our ships and aircraft have observed an increase in radio queries that appear to originate from new land-based facilities in the South China Sea", Commander Clay Doss, public affairs officer of the USA 7th Fleet, told the AP by email in response to questions about the Chinese messages.

Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims in the sea.

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