Philippines’ Teodoro Locsin says Beijing’s South China Sea code is like ‘a manual for feeding a dragon in your living room’



Beijing seeks a code of conduct for the South China Sea that “is all about how Southeast Asia and China will engage with each other and no one else”, Locsin told an Asia Society event in New York.

“[Such an agreement would be] implicit recognition of Chinese hegemony,” he said. “In short, a manual for living with a hegemon or the care and feeding of a dragon in your living room.”

courted controversy earlier this month when he said he would ignore a 2016 UN arbitration on the two countries’ competing claims in the South China Sea, which ruled in Manila’s favour and backed its claims to an exclusive economic zone (EEZ).Philippine President
Rodrigo Duterte

Duterte was willing to make the concession to China to advance joint offshore oil and gas exploration with Beijing in the region.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) refused to recognise the “nine-dash line” Beijing invokes to claim most of the South China Sea – including the Reed Bank, an undersea feature within the Philippine EEZ – as its sovereign territory. Beijing has never accepted the PCA ruling.

Locsin emphasised Manila’s relationship with the US, which he called “the eternal engine of endeavour and invention”, during a discussion with former Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd following opening address.

Locsin refuted suggestions that gains made by Duterte-backed candidates in May’s midterm elections represented a “mandate for China”.

“It’s very clear that the people are pro-America and so is the army,” he said. “Eighty per cent of the Filipinos are nuts about Duterte; 90 per cent of Filipinos are nuts about the United States.

“[The military alliance with the US is] rock solid, we hope not just in words but in material commitments. We cannot see any way forward and an Asia with any promise of freedom without American military help.”

Will backlash force Duterte to retreat from South China Sea oil deal?

Duterte, for his part, has since reversed his comments about ignoring the PCA ruling on the South China Sea.

“Everything is still under study,” Duterte’s spokesman Salvador Panelo recently told a local radio station.

“Technical committees from the two countries still have to meet to discuss the terms of reference, conditions and whatever else the joint exploration will cover. There’s plenty to talk about.”