Philippines says its ships blocked by China around disputed Whitsun reef

The chief Filipino diplomat insulted China and called on the regime to leave the disputed waters

The award handed down by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague in 2016 invalidates China's historic and expansive claim to the South China Sea, defined by a 9-dash line covering nearly the entirety of the 3.5 million square miles of strategic waters, where an estimated $5 billion worth of trade sails through annually. According to Philippine officials, the Chinese vessels "are manned by militia".

The latest spat between Manila and Beijing over the resource-rich waters - which China claims nearly entirely - flared up in March after hundreds of Chinese boats were spotted inside the Philippines' Exclusive Economic Zone.

Locsin tweeted: "China, my friend, how politely can I put it?" Let me see. GET THE FUCK OUT, ' Locsin said in a tweet from his personal account.

Following his tweet, the Philippine Foreign Ministry in a statement accused China's coast guard of "shadowing, blocking, risky maneuvers, and radio challenges of the Philippine coast guard vessels" on April 24 to 25 in the vicinity of Bajo de Masinloc, Reuters reported.

China has repeatedly complained about American Navy ships getting close to islands it occupies in the South China Sea, where Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei and Taiwan all also have competing claims. What are you doing to our friendship? You. Not us. We're trying. You.

China's embassy in Manila did not immediately comment on Locsin's remarks.

"The presence of Chinese Coast Guard vessels in the Philippines' territorial waters of Pag-asa Islands and Bajo de Masinloc, and exclusive economic zone, raises serious concern", it added.

Xi Jinping and Rodrigo Duterte
Xi Jinping and Rodrigo Duterte

China claims nearly the entire South China Sea, through which about US$3 trillion ($3.88 trillion) of shipborne trade passes each year.

Members of the Philippine Coast Guard use rubber boats as they patrol at Whitsun Reef, South China Sea last month.

He said the 2016 landmark ruling of the arbitral tribunal in The Hague is clear.

The Chinese defence ministry last week urged the United States to restrain its front-line forces in the air and seas near China. The Philippines has sent more vessels and held exercises in the contested waters, even as President Rodrigo Duterte said he won't confront China.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry has asked the Philippines to respect what it calls Chinese sovereignty in the disputed waters and "stop actions complicating the situation and escalating disputes".

Bajo de Masinloc, also known as Scarborough Shoal, is a triangle-shaped chain of reefs in the South China Sea that lies around 120 nautical miles from the nearest Philippine coast and 470 nautical miles from the nearest coast of China.

Duterte for the most part has pursued warmer ties with China in exchange for Beijing's promises of billions of dollars in investment, aid and loans.



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