Manila – ‘The Philippines has laid down some ‘Red Lines’ with respect to the ‘South China Sea’. If China crosses these ‘Red Lines’ and tries to steal the fuel gas reserves of Philippines, the Filipino President will declare a war against China,’ warned Philippines Secretary for Foreign Affairs. At the same time, the Philippines Secretary also warned that not all Chinese activities in the South China Sea will be tolerated. This warning coming from Philippines, which was trying to establish friendly ties with China since the last few months, comes as a shock to China.
For the last few years the Philippines government had taken an anti-China stance on the issue of the South China Sea. Claiming its own right over a certain part of the South China Sea, Philippines had challenged the Chinese claim. Philippines had also approached the International Court of Justice for this issue. But about one and a half years ago, when Rodrigo Duterte assumed power, there were important changes made in the foreign policy of Philippines.
President Duterte reset the traditional cooperation with the United States to increase its closeness with China. Duterte declared that there were no differences with China regarding the South China Sea. Subsequently, Duterte started gaining military cooperation from China. The opposition parties in Philippines had raised pandemonium against the Duterte policy. Duterte was being criticised for not raising his voice against the Chinese intrusion into the Filipino territory.
But two days ago, Alan Peter Cayetano, Secretary of Foreign Affairs in Philippines, objected to the excavation being carried out by China in the South China Sea and issued a stern warning. ‘All the countries in the region have equal right over the energy reserves in the South China Sea and that no country can unilaterally decide to mine these reserves. President Duterte has warned that if anyone tries to excavate in the Philippines’ marine limits, Philippines will straightaway declare a war against them,’ announced Cayetano.
Moreover, President Duterte had already warned China about the ‘Red Line’ concerning the South China Sea. Foreign Secretary Cayetano said, ‘China has already been informed that excavation, patrolling and other manoeuvres in the Philippines maritime limits are not acceptable to it. President Duterte will declare his position on the issue at an appropriate time’.
Philippines has claimed its right over ‘Scarborough Shoal’ in the South China Sea and the Philippines Navy has already established its bases on some of the islands there. But China is not willing to accept this claim by Philippines and has rather claimed a complete right over the entire South China Sea. As with Philippines, China has also disregarded the maritime rights of other countries like Vietnam, Taiwan, Brunei and Malaysia.
Meanwhile, Philippines, which had taken a soft stand on China’s role in the South China Sea for the past 1½ years, has now issued a warning to China by adopting an aggressive stance.