Duterte to China: Don’t drill for oil in PH sea


President Duterte has warned China against drilling for oil and other resources in the West Philippine Sea, saying it could lead to war.

West Philippine Sea is the local name of the waters within the Philippines’ 370-kilometer exclusive economic zone in the heavily disputed South China Sea.

China claims nearly the entire South China Sea, including swaths of the West Philippine Sea, but the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague has invalidated that sweeping claim and recognized the Philippines’ sovereignty and right to explore for resources in its own waters.

‘There will be trouble’

Mr. Duterte, who considers Chinese President Xi Jinping “a good friend,” has said he will not assert the arbitral ruling, but will not allow China to extract resources in the West Philippine Sea either.

“I told him, Mr. Xi Jinping, we also have a claim. You know, we have the award (the arbitral ruling). But I will not insist on recovering the award because it would result in a war, and it will be a massacre. I know. But please be it noted that one day, during my term, I will assert [the court’s ruling],” Mr. Duterte said in a speech to a meeting of mayors from the Visayas in Cebu City on Tuesday night.

Mr. Duterte said he would not waste time countering criticism of his supposed inaction on China’s militarization of the South China Sea, but stressed he would not allow China to explore for resources in the West Philippine Sea.

“I assert, what, oil. If you monopolize it, there will be trouble,” Mr. Duterte said.

“Son of a bitch, there’s uranium there. Oil—that’s difficult. That’s where we’re going to have differences. That’s where you’ll see [Interior Secretary Eduardo] Año bring a machete there and cut down the Chinese,” he said.

It was the third time in less than two weeks that Mr. Duterte had thrown a stone at China, raising his stock with his people who had been prodding him to fight for the Philippines’ interest in the South China Sea disputes.

On Tuesday last week, Mr. Duterte said it was “wrong” for China to claim airspace over the artificial islands it had built in the Spratly archipelago and that it should rethink its behavior in the South China Sea.

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