Manila: “China should lie off from Pag-asa (or Thitu) Island. If you make moves there, I will tell my soldiers, ‘Prepare for suicide mission’,” Rodrigo Duterte threatened China. For the last few days, hundreds of Chinese marine militia have laid siege to the Pag-asa Island and is highly speculated to be in an attempt to take control of the islands. Even the United States has voiced concerns over the matter. Despite the Philippines being a much smaller state as opposed to China, their aggressive President Duterte has threatened the mainland that they were prepared for a conflict.
“Let us be friends, but do not touch Pag-asa Island and the rest. If you make moves there, that’s a different story. I will tell my soldiers, ‘Prepare for suicide mission’,” asserted President Duterte. At the time, Duterte also admonished China by saying that it was not going to plead the mainland for friendship. Since the last two years, President Duterte had focussed on their cooperation with mainland China and has thus, created a stir with the threat.
The South China Sea dispute between China and the Philippines has been ongoing for a long time. Also, the Philippines have attained victory in a case against China over the South China Sea dispute in the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Even so, President Duterte had set aside the brawl and offered significance to the cooperation with China. Two years ago, Duterte had said that China was a powerful nation and the Philippines could not win a war with the mainland. Nevertheless, Duterte issued an ultimatum to China over the Pag-asa Island on Friday.
Furthermore, Joseph Felter, deputy assistant secretary of defence for South and Southeast Asia criticised China saying that Beijing had added to the tensions in the region by laying siege to the Pag-asa Island with a swarm of vessels.
Meanwhile, the US and the Philippines are to commence an exclusive exercise for which the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Wasp has already arrived at the Subic Bay. The warship is armed with the fleet of advanced F-35B aircraft. China has, hence, laid siege to the Pag-asa Island in an attempt to mount pressure over the Philippines. Albeit, President Duterte, recognised for his reckless behaviour has shown signs of US support by issuing the threat to China.