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Monday, December 4, 2023

Duterte: no U.S. troops in WPS

President Rodrigo Duterte has assured Chinese President Xi Jinping that no American soldier will be allowed to set foot on Pag-asa island in the West Philippine Sea.

In a television interview, Duterte recalled telling Xi not to waste gasoline in sending ships to Pag-asa island.

“‘Why are you surrounding my island with so many ships? You’re wasting your gasoline.’ That’s my exact words. ‘You’re wasting your gasoline. You might as well give it to us,’” the President said.

“I told you I will not allow, as long as I am President, any American to set foot on that Pag-asa. Because I know that it will create really trouble. And I will not allow their arms. If it’s a Philippine government arms given to us by America, well that’s another story. If you want, you can give us a better one,” he added.

The President did not state when the meeting was held, but he last met with the Chinese leader in April for the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing.

Duterte clarified he was “not angry” when he called Xi’s attention over the Chinese maritime flotilla in the West Philippine Sea.

“I told him, ‘Did I not tell you, Mr. President (Xi), that I will never allow the Americans to set foot on any of the islands controlled by the Philippines? That we will not start any war and that I will never allow American weapons to be stationed in that island?’” he said.

“Do not deprive them [Filipino fishermen] because you know we are poor. You prohibit us, you will just create the inflation to go higher,” Duterte added.

Earlier, US military’s top general accused Xi of reneged on his promises not to militarize the South China Sea and called for “collective action” to hold Beijing responsible.

Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Pentagon’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he was not calling for military action, but stressed that there was a need to enforce international laws.

“The fall of 2016, President Xi Jinping promised President Obama that they would not militarize the islands. So what we see today are 10,000-foot runways, ammunition storage facilities, routine deployment of missile defense capabilities, aviation capabilities, and so forth,” he said in a talk on US security and defense at the Brooking institution.

“So clearly they have walked away from that commitment…When we ignore actions that are not in compliance with international rules, norms and standards, we have just set a new standard,” Dunford added.

Washington has been frustrated by an inability to stall China’s aggressive military colonization of the South China Sea, which rejects conflicting territorial claims by five other countries: Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia and Philippines.

The US has sent navy vessels through the areas claimed by China as “international freedom of navigation operations,” but otherwise has found responding difficult.

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