fredag 5. april 2019

South China Sea: Duterte warns Beijing of 'suicide missions' to protect disputed island

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has warned Beijing to back off from a disputed island in the South China Sea, warning of “suicide missions” if China touches it.

Duterte, aiming to attract trade and investment from China, has mostly withheld his early criticism of Beijing’s expansive claims to the sea – a point of regional contention because trillions of dollars of goods pass through it.

But as the Philippine military warned this week that hundreds of Chinese coastguard and fishing vessels had “swarmed” the Manila-held Pag-asa island, also known as Thitu, the Philippine president spoke out late on Thursday. “I will not plead or beg, but I am just telling you that lay off the Pag-asa because I have soldiers there,” Duterte said in speech to prosecutors. “If you touch it, that’s another story. Then I will tell my soldiers ‘prepare for suicide missions’.

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