‘Is it right for a country to claim whole ocean?’: Duterte frustrated with Beijing over South China Sea conduct
- The president said he was sad and bewildered as the efforts to hammer out a code of conduct to govern the disputed waters drag on
- He warned that the longer it takes, the greater the chance the sea would be a “flashpoint of troubles”
“I love China … but it behoves upon us to ask, is it right for a country to claim the whole ocean?” he said.
“I am sad and bewildered – not angry, because I cannot do anything,” Duterte said. “I just hope China will come up with this ‘conduct’ soon.
Duterte, aiming to attract Chinese trade and investment, has mostly withheld his early criticism of Beijing’s expansive claims to the sea – a point of regional contention because trillions of dollars of goods pass through it.
However, he has largely set aside that ruling and backed off on their once tense territorial dispute over the sea, prompting criticism at home that he has been soft on China
“China says, ‘this is our land, this is our sea. Anyone who goes in there will just have to contend with us. Maybe with arms’,” Duterte told the Future of Asia forum.
“My country is very small. I cannot afford to go to war with anybody, not only with China.”
“It is creating uncertainty and tension,” he said.