The President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte has warned he is willing to deploy navy ships to the South China Sea to assert the country’s claim to oil and rich mineral deposits in the disputed zone. Tensions between the Phillippines and China spiked last month after hundreds of Chinese vessels were detected in Philippines-held waters. The incident at Whitsun Reef, an area which Mr Duterte has claims lies within Manila’s exclusive economic zone.
President Duterte put his stand forward during a televised briefing on Monday.
He said: “I am not so much interested now in fishing. I don’t think there is enough fish to quarrel about.
“But when we start to mine. When we start to get whatever it is in the bowels of the China sea, our oil.
“By that time I will send my grey ships there to make a claim.”
A WION reporter told the Indian news network: “Beijing has refuses repeated demands by the Phillippines to call back these ships.
“Which Manila claims to be maritime militia vessels.
“While China says there are simply fishing boats.
“The president’s statement comes after growing domestic criticism that he has gone soft on Beijing.”
Tensions between China and the Philippines have worsened in recent weeks as President Xi Jinping sends more Chinese ships into the hotly disputed waterway.
The Chinese government has claimed their presence in the South China Sea is lawful and non-threatening.
However, the US has strongly what they see as aggressive moves by China which breaks treaty obligations to the Philippines.
The Biden administration has condemned the use of “maritime militia” by Beijing to put pressure on Manilla.
It comes after China issued a stark warning to Taiwan, telling the island that Beijing prefers war to allowing the country to forge closer ties to the US.
China’s Taiwan Affairs Office announced a strike force of 25 Chinese fighters, bombers and surveillance aircraft had flown over Taipei in order to send a message to the island.
In a grim warning, spokesman Ma Xiaoguang declared: “The signal given by the military drills is that we are determined to stop Taiwan independence and stop Taiwan from working with the US.
“We are doing it with action. We do not promise to abandon the use of force, and retain the option of taking all necessary measures.”