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President Duterte’s statement “China possesses the South China Sea” faces a fierce reaction from government officials.
In a national message on July 22, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said it was impossible to force the coast police to drive away Chinese fishing vessels in the country’s exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea because “China also declared sovereign rights and ownership of that sea “.
Duterte’s statement immediately stumbled upon the response of many high-ranking Filipino officials. Vice President of the Supreme Court of the Philippines Antonio Carpio said that China is illegally occupying 7 artificial islands and Scarborough Shoal, which is less than 7% of the South China Sea, so it cannot be said that China “owns” the sea. this.
“The navies of countries like the US, Britain, France, Australia, Japan and Canada still regularly pass through, rehearsing in the South China Sea, showing that China does not own the area,” Carpio wrote.
Philippine National Security Advisor Hermogenes Esperon Jr. yesterday affirmed that China was only “present” in the South China Sea by illegally building artificial islands in the Spratly Islands under Vietnam’s sovereignty and illegally deploying talents and soldiers on it.
These Chinese actions go against the pledge not to militarize the South China Sea and do not mean that the country “owns” the entire sea. Philippine Defense Minister Delfin Lorenzana also supported this argument by Esperon.
However, Salvador Panelo, a spokesman for President Duterte, today announced that China’s military presence in the South China Sea made Beijing “own” both “control” this resource-rich sea. . “When the President said that China is in possession (the South China Sea), he refers to the location of Chinese military outposts there. This is why they control this sea,” Panelo said.
President Duterte was repeatedly criticized by opposition MPs and government officials for his soft stance against China’s irrational sovereignty claims in the South China Sea. China claims sovereignty over much of the South China Sea by “road 9” because it unilaterally draws it, though it has been dismissed by the Arbitral Tribunal in 2016.
In a speech on July 22, Duterte explained that he was only doing “delicate balance action” in the territorial dispute with China, and said he would enforce the South China Sea’s arbitral award. Online but “at the right time”.