onsdag 21. april 2021

South China Sea: Manila gets tough on Beijing over Whitsun Reef row, earning praise from even Duterte’s critics

In a testy message to the Chinese embassy on Monday, Manila warned it would file diplomatic protests for every day that Beijing’s maritime militia ships continued to linger near the Whitsun Reef, which sits within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the South China Sea. The warning came as Duterte’s aide Salvador Panelo said the incident was straining ties and could “trigger unwanted hostilities” between the two nations. “We can negotiate on matters of mutual concern and benefit, but make no mistake about it – our sovereignty is non-negotiable,” he said in a statement.

The messages were the latest in a series of acrimonious exchanges between Philippine officials and the Chinese embassy that could signal a shift in the pro-Beijing position that the Duterte administration has cultivated in the last five years. The Philippines revealed two weeks ago that more than 200 Chinese vessels, including those from the maritime militia, had been moored near the reef since early March.