MANILA – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte admitted on Sunday that his country cannot curb the Chinese activities in the South China Sea, whose maritime sovereignty is disputed among six regional countries.
During a press conference, Duterte told reporters “We cannot stop China from doing (these) things.”
There is a sovereignty dispute over the Scarborough Shoal between the Philippines and China, where Beijing is allegedly setting up radars.
“What do you want me to do? Declare war against China? I can’t. We will lose all our military and policemen tomorrow and become a destroyed nation,” he added.
Duterte said that China had become one of its major economic partners, and stated that all he could do was ask Beijing to avoid interfering with the Philippines coast guard patrolling the area.
Duterte delivered these remarks during a press conference before he embarks on an Asian tour, which will include visits to Myanmar and Thailand.
In addition to the Philippines and China, four other regional countries – Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei – have all laid maritime and territorial sovereignty claims on either all or a part of the hundreds of South China Sea islands.