Philippines' President Rodrigo Duterte Says He Will Not Withdraw Ships From Contested Waters As Tensions With China Mount

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Philippines' President Duterte Says He Will Not Withdraw Ships From Contested Waters As Tensions With China Mount

There is increasing tension in the South China Sea after Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte said that he would not withdraw Filipino naval vessels from an area disputed between the Philippines and China.


The Philippines has increased its naval presence in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), which both the Philippines and China claim as their own. The area includes Thitu Island, on which sits a large number of Chinese military installations.


Duterte even went on television, ramping up the pressure on the Chinese. He said:


"We have a stand here, and I want to state it here and now again that our ships there ... we will not move an inch backward."


The strongman leader added:


"I do not want a quarrel, I do not want trouble. I respect your position, and you respect mine. But we will not go to war. I will not withdraw. Even if you kill me. Our friendship will end here."


China also released a statement in which it said:


"[The Philippines must] stop actions complicating the situation and escalating disputes."


Duterte had previously accepted a 2016 ruling that said China controlled the region, but he faced heavy criticism within the Philippines for this stance. Pressure from inside the Philippines is perhaps why Duterte has now come out with such a strong statement on an issue he had previously accepted as irrelevant.


One politician to criticise Duterte for his previous weakness on the issue was Senator Risa Hontiveros, who said:


"Why is it that the palace speaks as if it's a defeated party? They should stop it, because China is the only one enjoying this and benefiting from it. Maybe the reason why they won't pull out the 200 ships they have in the West Philippine Sea is that they hear what the palace has been saying."


Under Duterte, the Philippines has moved more away from its traditional ally the United States and towards the Chinese sphere of influence. The South China Sea is a strategically highly important area as it is through the sea that much of the trade in Asia takes places. Numerous disputes over marine rights have taken place among many Asian nations in recent years.


[h/t: CNN]


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Thinking Humanity: Philippines' President Rodrigo Duterte Says He Will Not Withdraw Ships From Contested Waters As Tensions With China Mount
Philippines' President Rodrigo Duterte Says He Will Not Withdraw Ships From Contested Waters As Tensions With China Mount
There is increasing tension in the South China Sea after Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte said that he would not withdraw Filipino naval vessels fro
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