The Philippines President believes that his country cannot stop China from building in the South China Sea without risking to start a war with the superpower.
The Philippines can do nothing to stop China from building on Scarborough Shoal, also known as Panatag Shoal, in the South China Sea, the Daily Caller news portal reported, citing Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who believes that any assertive course of action would risk war with the superpower.
“We cannot stop China from doing its thing,” the Philippine President said before his trip to Myanmar. “What do you want me to do? Declare war on China?” he asked. “I can, but we’ll lose all our military and policemen tomorrow, and we will be a destroyed nation.”
In his speech Sunday, Duterte also admitted China’s right to send ships into Philippine waters.
“You have the right to pass through, anybody can. The Americans come through daily. Why discriminate against China? We are not at war with China, and I am at not war with America. The American ships come and go … China is also our friend,” he said. “Now, we are now improving on the economy because of the help of China. Why should we not let them pass?”
At the same time, he asked China not to harass his country’s coast guard: “Just keep the waters open and do not interfere with our coast guard.”
Just a couple of days before the Duterte’s statements, Philippine Defense Minister Delfin Lorenzana called to strengthen the country’s military facilities, located in the Spratly Islands, where China has been aggressively building fortified outposts.
Earlier this week, China announced that it is going to build an “environmental monitoring station” on Scarborough Shoal.
Scarborough Shoal was seized by China in 2012. In 2013, the territorial dispute was unilaterally submitted by the Philippines to the Permanent Court of Arbitration in Hague.
Last year, the international arbitration tribunal ruled in the Philippines favor and discredited Beijing’s claims to the waters and territories of South China Sea. However, China rejected the tribunal’s ruling, as well as its authority.
Due to the strained relations between the Philippine President and the Obama’s administration, Duterte turned to Russia and China for assistance. The Philippines actively strengthen economic ties with China, and the country’s President believes that this important part of the state’s evolvement could be derailed by the territorial disputes in the South China Sea.