Duterte: I can't stop China from island building

President Rodrigo Duterte

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte's flip-flops and North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un's missile tests have saved South China Sea peace, for now, as both major players in the disputes - China and the USA - have been softening their tone lately.

"We can not stop China from doing this thing", he told reporters.

"But I said to China that someday during my term as President, I will have to confront you about the arbitral ruling and that would be maybe, during the time when you begin to extract minerals and the riches of what is inside the bowels of the earth", he added. "We are not in a position to declare war", he said. "I can't. We will lose all our military and policemen tomorrow and we (will be) a destroyed nation", he added.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled that Panatag Shoal is a "common fishing ground" of fishermen not only from the Philippines but also from China and other neighboring countries.

China maintains claim to almost 90 percent of the East China Sea, despite a mandate from an worldwide tribunal last July awarding neighboring countries control of all islands located within their exclusive economic zones.

China recently committed to finance at least three big-ticket projects in the Philippines worth three-point-four billion USA dollars.

Referring to the arbitration ruling, Duterte said, "We can not assert even a single sentence of any provision that we signed".

Due to the president's rocky relationship with the Obama administration, Duterte turned to America's rivals, China and Russian Federation, for assistance.

The legislation would "impose sanctions and prohibit visas for Chinese individuals and entities who contribute to construction or development projects, and those who threaten the peace, security or stability of the South China Sea or East China Sea", according to a statement from Rubio's office.

The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs has said that in the the present worldwide environment, it would be hard for Taiwan to participate in the negotiations or dialogues.

"Why should I discriminate against China?" The American ships come and go ...

Asked yesterday (March 19) about the prospect of China building structures at the shoal, Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte gave the equivalent of a diplomatic shrug.

Tillerson has called the activity "illegal" and last June, then US Defence Secretary Ash Carter warned that any move by China to reclaim land at Scarborough Shoal would "result in actions being taken by the both United States and ... by others in the region which would have the effect of not only increasing tensions, but isolating China".

The waterway is a major shipping route where an estimated US$5 trillion of trade passes through annually.

Duterte said if American naval ships were allowed to cross Philippine territory, Chinese coast guards should be able to do so as well. "Just keep the waters open and do not interfere with our coast guard".

Duterte said should China start to tinker with entitlements within the territories, the Philippines will be ready to revive the issue with the Asian superpower.

Over the years, the USA has invested significant military and political capital to defend its long-time ally against encroachments by China, yet Duterte has downplayed its relationship with Washington, D.C., to pursue better ties with Beijing and Moscow.

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