PHILIPPINE President Rodrigo Duterte has warned China against exploring the Southeast Asian country’s waters for oil and other resources as it could lead to war.
Duterte’s warning comes as Beijing fortifies artificial islands it built on reefs claimed by Manila and reveals plans to monitor movements of ships with the use of satellites.
Duterte said while he considers Chinese President Xi Jinping “a good friend”, the Philippines will not allow China to extract resources in the West Philippine Sea.
“If you monopolise it (oil), there will be trouble,” Duterte said during a meeting with mayors in Cebu City on Tuesday night, as quoted by the Inquirer.
“Son of a bitch, there’s uranium there. Oil—that’s difficult. That’s where we’re going to have differences. That’s where you’ll see [Interior Secretary Eduardo] Año bring a machete there and cut down the Chinese,” he said.
However, Duterte insists Manila will not assert an international ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague on the matter.
“I told him, Mr. Xi Jinping, we also have a claim. You know, we have the award (the arbitral ruling). But I will not insist on recovering the award because it would result in a war, and it will be a massacre,”
“I know. But please let it be noted that one day, during my term, I will assert [the court’s ruling].”
In February 2017, Xi had warned Duterte there would be war if Manila tried to enforce the arbitration ruling.
The Hague award granted Philippine sovereign rights to its 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone to access resources such as oil and gas.
The ruling also invalidated China’s claim on the so-called nine-dash line on its maps where it claimed sovereignty over most of the South China Sea.
China is making competing claims with Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei over control of more than a third of the South China Sea, where Beijing has transformed at least three organic reefs into artificial islands.
The man-made reefs are said to double-up as military facilities.
Duterte, who has been accused of inaction over Beijing’s militarisation of the disputed islands, said he would not waste time on his critics.
However, he insisted that China would not be allowed to take resources in the West Philippine Sea.