Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has said that he would not withdraw navy and coast guard boats patrolling the South China Sea, insisting that the country’s sovereignty over the waters is not negotiable.
Tensions over the sea have spiked as Beijing refuses to pull out vessels from the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone and Manila steps up maritime patrols.
China claims almost all of the waters of the South China Sea, where it has established military outposts on artificial islands. Taiwan has virtually identical claims.
Duterte is under growing domestic pressure to take a harder line, but has been reluctant to confront China over the issue as he fosters closer ties with the economic giant.
Late on Wednesday, he said that while the Philippines is indebted to its “good friend” China for many things, including free COVID-19 vaccines, his country’s claims to the waterway “cannot be bargainable.”
“I’ll tell China, we do not want trouble, we do not want war. But if you tell us to leave — no,” Duterte said. “There are things which are not really subject to a compromise, such as us pulling back. It’s difficult. I hope they understand, but I have the interest of my country also to protect.”
The president’s remarks came after the Philippine Department of National Defense said: “China has no business telling the Philippines what we can and cannot do with our own waters.”
The Philippine Coast Guard is conducting drills near Thitu Island (Jhongye Island, 中業島) and Scarborough Shoal (Huangyan Island, 黃岩島), as well as the Batanes Islands.
Once-frosty ties between Manila and Beijing have warmed under Duterte, who has received Chinese promises of trade and investment — which critics say have not materialized.
Delays in COVID-19 vaccine deliveries have left the Philippines heavily reliant on the CoronaVac jab developed by China’s Sinovac.
A long line of people on Sunday snaked across the sand of Miami Beach, Florida, as dozens of travelers from Latin America waited their turn at a pop-up COVID-19 vaccination booth. Sweating under the afternoon sun, visitors checked into an online system — no proof of residence required — and soon after received a free, single-dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and a vaccination card. People had come from all over Latin America — Ecuador, El Salvador, Venezuela — where the vaccine rollout has been slow and hampered by supply shortages. “In my country, [COVID-19] is getting out of hand and there’s
‘COVERT’ ACTIVITY: The High Court ruled against a Chinese-born Australian former adviser to a state lawmaker, who allegedly advanced ‘policy goals of a foreign principal’ A Chinese-born Australian political adviser yesterday lost his challenge in Australia’s highest court against laws banning covert foreign interference in domestic politics. John Zhang (張智森) also lost his Australian High Court challenge in a unanimous decision of seven judges to the validity of search warrants executed by police at his Sydney home and offices last year as part of an investigation into illegal foreign interference on behalf of China. Zhang was an adviser to New South Wales Lawmaker Shaoquett Moselmane, whose membership in the opposition Labor Party was suspended after he was also the target of police raids. The raids in June last
A man was left stranded on a glass-bottomed suspension bridge in northeastern China after sudden gale-force winds shattered the transparent panels around him. The man was on the 100m-high bridge at Piyan Mountain in Longjing city, when it was hit by sudden strong weather, the local tourism department said. TRAPPED Gusts of up to 150kph blew out several glass panels, trapping the tourist until he could be rescued by firefighters, police, and forestry and tourism personnel more than half an hour later. Photographs shared on social media showed the man clinging to the side of the bridge, surrounded by gaping holes where the
Scores of dead bodies have been found floating down the Ganges River in eastern India as the country battles a ferocious surge in COVID-19 infections. Authorities on Tuesday said that they have not yet determined the cause of death. Health officials working through Monday night retrieved 71 bodies, officials in Bihar state said. Images on social media of the bodies floating in the river prompted outrage and speculation that they died from COVID-19. Authorities performed post mortems on Tuesday, but said that they could not confirm the cause of death due to the decomposition of the bodies. More corpses were found floating in