The Philippine foreign minister yesterday demanded on Twitter that China’s vessels get out of disputed waters, marking the latest exchange in a war of words with Beijing over its activities in the South China Sea.
The comments by Teodoro Locsin, known for making blunt remarks at times, follow Manila’s protests for what it calls the “illegal” presence of hundreds of Chinese boats inside the Philippines 200-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
“China, my friend, how politely can I put it? Let me see… O…get out,” Locsin said in a tweet on his personal account.
China’s embassy in Manila did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Chinese officials have previously said the vessels at the disputed Whitsun Reef were fishing boats taking refuge from rough seas.
China claims almost the entire South China Sea, through which about $3tn of ship-borne trade passes each year.
In 2016, an arbitration tribunal in The Hague ruled that the claim, which Beijing bases on its old maps, was inconsistent with international law.
In a statement on Monday, the Philippine foreign ministry accused China’s coast guard of “shadowing, blocking, dangerous manoeuvres, and radio challenges of the Philippine coast guard vessels.”
Philippine officials believe the Chinese vessels are manned by militia.
On Sunday, the Philippines vowed to continue maritime exercises in its EEZ in the South China Sea in response to a Chinese demand that it stop actions it said could escalate disputes.
As of April 26, the Philippines had filed 78 diplomatic protests to China since President Rodrigo Duterte took office in 2016, foreign ministry data shows.
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