The Philippine foreign minister on Monday demanded in an expletive-laced Twitter message that China’s vessels leave disputed waters, the latest exchange in a war of words with Beijing over areas of the South China Sea.
The undiplomatic comments by Teodoro Locsin, known for blunt remarks, follow Manila’s protests over what it calls the “illegal” presence of hundreds of Chinese boats inside the Philippines’ 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
On Monday, the Philippines issued an official protest against the “belligerent” actions of Chinese vessels in waters claimed by Manila. But it appears that the country’s top diplomat felt the need to reiterate his government’s position with rather saltier language.
“China, my friend, how politely can I put it? Let me see… O…GET THE F**K OUT,” Locsin tweeted on his personal account.
“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; not to father a Chinese province …”
China’s embassy in Manila did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Chinese officials have previously said the fleet of vessels at the disputed Whitsun Reef were fishing boats taking refuge from rough seas.
China claims almost the entire South China Sea, through which about US$3 trillion of shipborne trade passes each year.
Manila insists the reef belongs to the Philippines. In 2016, an arbitration tribunal in The Hague ruled that no country could claim absolute sovereignty over the area, noting that it has long been used by Filipino, Vietnamese and Chinese fishermen.
A spokesman for the US State Department reiterated a March 28 statement by Secretary of State Antony Blinken saying the US “stands with our ally, the Philippines, in the face of China’s maritime militia pressure in the South China Sea”.
In a statement, the Philippine foreign ministry accused China’s coast guard of “shadowing, blocking, dangerous manoeuvres, and radio challenges of the Philippine coast guard vessels”.
On Sunday, the Philippines vowed to continue maritime exercises in its South China Sea EEZ in response to a Chinese demand that it stop actions it said could escalate disputes.
As of April 26, the Philippines had filed 78 diplomatic protests to China since President Rodrigo Duterte took office in 2016, foreign ministry data shows.
“Our statements are stronger too because of the more brazen nature of the activities, the number, frequency and proximity of intrusions,” said Marie Yvette Banzon-Abalos, executive director for strategic communications at the foreign ministry.
Duterte has pursued warmer ties with China in exchange for Beijing’s promises of billions of dollars in investment, aid and loans.
“China remains to be our benefactor. Just because we have a conflict with China does not mean to say that we have to be rude and disrespectful,” Duterte said in a weekly national address.
“So, kindly just allow our fishermen to fish in peace and there is no reason for trouble,” Duterte said, addressing China.