Philippine defense secretary vows to stand up to 'bully' China

  • 8 months ago

News Article :-
China is behaving like a schoolyard bully toward smaller countries, the Philippine defense secretary told CNN Friday during an exclusive interview in which he warned his nation, and the wider world, had to stand up to Beijing’s territorial expansion in the South China Sea.

“I cannot think of any clearer case of bullying than this,” said Philippine Secretary of National Defense Gilberto Teodoro Jr. “It’s not the question of stealing your lunch money, but it’s really a question of stealing your lunch bag, your chair and even enrollment in school.”
His comments follow increasingly assertive moves by the Philippines to protect its claim to shoals in the South China Sea during more than a month of high-stakes maritime drama.

While tensions between China and the Philippines over the highly-contested and strategic waterway have festered for years, confrontations have spiked this summer, renewing regional fears that a mistake or miscalculation at sea could trigger a wider conflict, including with the United States.

The region is widely seen as a potential flashpoint for global conflagration and the recent confrontations have raised concerns among Western observers of potentially developing into an international incident if China, a global power, decides to act more forcefully against the Philippines, a US treaty ally.

Recent incidents have involved stand offs between China’s coast guard, what Manila says are shadowy Chinese “maritime militia” boats and tiny wooden Philippine fishing vessels, Chinese water cannons blocking the resupply of a shipwrecked Philippine military outpost, and a lone Filipino diver cutting through a floating Chinese barrier.

Teodoro characterized the Philippines’ refusal to back down in the waters within its 200 nautical-mile exclusive economic zone as a fight for the very existence of the Philippines.

“We’re fighting for our fisherfolk, we’re fighting for our resources. We’re fighting for our integrity as an archipelagic state… Our existence as the Republic of the Philippines is vital to this fight,” Teodoro said in a sit down interview at the Department of National Defense in Manila. “It’s not for us, it’s for the future generations too.”

“And if we don’t stop, China is going to creep and creep into what is within our sovereign jurisdiction, our sovereign rights and within our territory,” he said, adding that Beijing wont stop until it controls “the whole South China Sea.”

Beijing says it is safeguarding its sovereignty and maritime interests in the South China Sea and warned the Philippines this week “not to make provocations or seek troubles.” It accused Philippine fishing and coast guard vessels of illegal entry into the area.

China claims “indisputable sovereignty” over almost all 1.3 million square miles of the South China Sea, and most of the islands and sandbars within it, including many features that are hundreds of miles