Duterte: We can’t stop China building on disputed shoal
MANILA: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said yesterday he could not stop China from building on a disputed shoal near his country’s west coast because it was too powerful.
The mayor of China’s Sansha city had reportedly said his country would set up an environmental monitoring station on Scarborough Shoal, which China seized from the Philippines in 2012.
“We cannot stop China from doing (these) things.
“What do you want me to do? Declare war against China? I can’t. We will lose all our military and policemen tomorrow and we (will be) a destroyed nation,” he told a press conference before departing for Myanmar.
Duterte said he would tell the Chinese: “Just keep it (the waters) open and do not interfere with our coast guard.”
He also brushed aside concerns over Chinese survey ships that had been seen near Benham Rise — waters east of the main Philippine island of Luzon that had been recognised by the United Nation as indisputably Philippine territory.
Earlier this month, Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said he was concerned that the ships had been seen at that location, sometimes for as long as a month.
But Duterte said: “So what if they stop there? They admit it is within the territory of the Philippines. That does not satisfy you?”
He described the complaints against China as “nit-picking”.
“We are now improving the economy because of the help of China. Why will you be so shameless just because they are passing by?”
Scarborough Shoal is 230km from Luzon. Analysts warn that outposts there would put Chinese jet fighters and missiles within striking distance of military bases in the Philippines.
The shoal also commands the northeast exit of the sea, so a Chinese military outpost there could stop other countries’ navies from using the waters. AFP