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Philippines’ Duterte says Manila won’t stop maritime exercise in South China Sea

Duterte said China is a good friend and ‘we don’t want trouble with them’

Philippines-Rodrigo-Duterte [File] Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte | AP

Philippines defence ministry has said that Beijing has no business telling Manila what it can or cannot do within its waters. Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte said that it won’t withdraw the navy and coast guard boats patrolling the disputed South China Sea.

China, in the past few months, has been aggressive over resources at the South China Sea, a strategic route, where about USD 3 trillion worth of trade passes every year.

Tensions between the Philippines and China spiked after Beijing refused to pull out vessels from the Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zone and Manila stepped up maritime patrols.

Duterte said that while the Philippines is indebted to China for COVID-19 vaccines, his country’s claims to the waterway “cannot be bargainable,” a Reuters report read.

“So China, let it be known, is a good friend and we don't want trouble with them, especially a war. But there are things that are not really subject to a compromise ... I hope they will understand but I have the interest of my country also to protect,” Duterte said.

Soon after, the country’s defence department said, “China has no business telling the Philippines what we can and cannot do with our own waters”.

China, on Monday, said that the Philippines should “stop actions complicating the situation and escalating disputes”.

The Philippines said the maritime exercises on Saturday inside the country's 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) was to counter the “threatening” presence of Chinese boats.

Philippines Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said, “It is they (China) who are encroaching and should desist and leave.”

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