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Duterte asks China: Why surround my islands with so many ships?

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By Argyll Cyrus Geducos

President Duterte revealed that he was frank with Chinese President Xi Jinping during his last trip to Beijing in April about China’s activities in the disputed West Philippine Sea.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte (ALFRED FRIAS / PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte (ALFRED FRIAS / PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

In an interview with Sonshine Media Network International Saturday, Duterte said that he asked Xi why there were many ships in the disputed waters when he already assured them that the United States will not be able to set foot on islands controlled by the Philippines.

“I was not angry but sinabi ko (but I said), ‘Did I not tell you, Mr. President, that I will never allow the Americans to set foot on any of the islands controlled by the Philippines. That we will not start any war and that I will never allow American weapons to be stationed in that island?'” Duterte recalled.

“‘So why are you surrounding my island with so many ships? You’re wasting your gasoline.’ That’s my exact words. ‘You’re wasting your gasoline. You might as well give it to us,'” he continued.

Duterte then said that he will not allow any American to set foot on the Pag-asa Island for as long as he is president.

“I know that it will create, really, trouble. And I will not allow their arms. If it’s a Philippine government arms given to us by America, well that’s another story. If you want, you can give us a better one,” he recalled telling Xi.

“I was quite frank with the… Talagang sinabi ko sa kanya. Sinabi ko nga sa iyo (I really told him that), I will not. You have my word of honor,” he added.

He also said that he told Xi to not prohibit Filipino fishermen from entering the disputed waters because it will only cause a surge in the country’s inflation rate.

“Do not deprive them because you know we are poor. You prohibit us. You will just create the inflation to go higher,” Duterte recalled telling Xi.

“Okay na siguro kasi wala namang reklamo ‘yung mga fishermen (Maybe it’s the situation is okay now since there are no complaints from the fishermen),” he added.

In his speech during Nikkei’s 25th International Conference on the Future of Asia in Tokyo last week, Duterte expressed the need to speedily craft a sea code in the South China Sea, asking China if it is right for the Asian superpower to claim the entire ocean.

Duterte, who also heads the ASEAN-China Summit, noted that there is tension in the disputed waters because there is no code to follow.

“There is so much animosity covered by sweet talking about how they desire to have an agreement. But nobody is pushing and the intrusions as far as China is concerned it’s in their waters,” he said.

“I love China it has helped us a bit. But it behooves upon us to ask: Is it right for a country to claim the whole ocean? Only just leave the high seas as it was during the old days of international law,” he added.

In April this year, Duterte asked China to lay-off Pag-asa Island, saying there will be war if Filipinos there end up dying.

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