President Duterte says Philippines can't stop China's actions in disputed South China Sea

Namrata Tripathi
President Duterte says Philippines can't stop China's actions in disputed South China Sea

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday said that his military is not strong enough to stop China's actions in the contested waters of South China Sea.

Duterte made the statement while responding to reports of Beijing's plan of construction of an environmental monitoring station in a shoal off northwestern Philippines, according to Associated Press reports.

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The Philippines president however said that he would invoke a July 12 arbitration ruling that invalidated China's territorial claims in the South China Sea if the Chinese "start to tinker with the entitlement." Duterte made the statement, referring to Beijing's plan of tapping into the region's offshore resources.

"We cannot stop China from doing this thing, the Americans were not able to stop it," Duterte in a news conference said. "What will I do? Declare a war against China? I can, but we'll all lose our military and policemen tomorrow, and we will be a destroyed nation," he added.

The country's Department of Foreign Affairs, however, took a slightly different tone stating that it was verifying the news reports about China's construction plans on Scarborough Shoal and added that they would not comment on the issue.

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Philippines government, in the past, has expressed concerns and lodged protests whenever China has taken an aggressive stance to assert its sovereignty in contested territories. However, Duterte did not seem to pose a protest to China's actions.

Reports state that a top official in Sansha City was quoted by the official Hainan Daily newspaper as saying that preparations were underway to build an environmental monitoring station on Scarborough Shoal. 

Reports state that if the construction plans on Scarborough proceed, then it would be China's first such recent permanent structure on a shoal embroiled in territorial dispute. 

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