The Philippines stepped up its rhetoric against Beijing on Monday over Chinese activity near disputed features in the South China Sea. Philippine Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin told China to get the “F*** out” of the disputed waters after an encounter between Chinese and Philippine Coast Guard Vessels near Scarborough Shoal.
“China, my friend, how politely can I put it? Let me see… O…GET THE F*** OUT. What are you doing to our friendship? You. Not us. We’re trying. You. You’re like an ugly oaf forcing your attentions on a handsome guy who wants to be a friend,” Locsin wrote.
Scarborough Shoal is a chain of reefs and rocks about 140 miles west of the Philippine island of Luzon that lies within the 200-mile exclusive economic zone of the Philippines and is also claimed by Beijing. Philippines Department of Foreign Affairs said on Monday that it protested “challenges” from Chinese Coast Guard vessels to Philippine Coast Guard vessels near Scarborough that occurred on April 24th and 25th.
Tensions have been high in the region since March when the Philippines protested the presence of Chinese vessels near Whitson Reef, another disputed feature in the South China Sea. Manila claimed the vessels were a “maritime militia,” while Beijing said they were just fishing boats.
The Whitson dispute caused the US to reaffirm its support for the Philippines and remind China that the US-Philippine Mutual Defense Treaty covers naval incidents in the South China Sea.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has said he will not give up these reefs to China, but his rhetoric has been much more toned down than his advisors. Last week, Duterte said he would not pull back from the areas but added that he wants to maintain friendly relations with China and owes Beijing a “debt of gratitude” for help with the coronavirus vaccine.