Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin in a Tuesday statement urged the Philippines to use “basic manners” and cautioned against “megaphone diplomacy”.
Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs Teodoro Locsin Jr had tweeted on Monday that China should “get the f**k out” as the two countries engaged in a war of words over the South China Sea in general and several reefs and shoals near the Philippines in particular.
CNBC is reporting that in several tweets since, Locsin apologised to Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi for turning the air South China Sea-blue, and said he was “provoked by the latest grossest territorial violation”.
Wenbin had responded to Locsin’s outburst by saying that “facts have proven time and time again that megaphone diplomacy can only undermine mutual trust rather than change reality”.
Locsin has been a vocal China critic in President Rodrigo Duterte’s government and is known for his occasional blunt and salty remarks.
Meanwhile, Duterte’s spokesman Harry Roque reportedly said the Philippine president has reminded officials that profanity has no place in diplomacy.
But Beijing also has a track record of firing insults at other countries.
Such aggressive tactics by Chinese diplomats have in recent years increasingly played out on social media platforms such as Twitter, which is blocked on the mainland.
Observers have dubbed these tactics “wolf warrior diplomacy” after a series of hugely popular movies where Chinese fighters defeat adversaries globally.
China and the Philippines have for years contested overlapping territorial claims in the South China Sea, a resource-rich waterway through which trillions of dollars of global trade passes every year.
Beijing has in the past year appeared more assertive in the disputed waters, leading Manila to protest on several occasions the presence of Chinese vessels in parts of the sea that are internationally recognised as belonging to the Philippines.
Beijing on Tuesday reiterated that Bajo de Masinloc – which it calls Huangyan Island – and its surrounding waters fall under China’s jurisdiction.
Bajo de Masinloc, also known as Scarborough Shoal, is a chain of reefs in the South China Sea that lies around 120 nautical miles from the nearest Philippine coast and 470 nautical miles from the nearest coast of China.
China claims most of the South China Sea for itself, based on the ill-defined demarcation line used by the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of China (Taiwan), for their claims on the South China Sea.
An international tribunal in 2016 dismissed the so-called nine-dash line as legally baseless – a ruling ignored by Beijing.