“China can say what it wants, Philippines will do what it must to keep what’s hers by right,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Locsin, Jr. said on April 4 in a Twitter post.
“Irrelevant whether we possess commensurate military power to meet the challenge; we will not yield but die—or trigger World War 3. Not a bad outcome; living is overrated. Honor is all,” Secretary Locsin added.
Secretary Locsin made the statement after the Chinese Embassy in Manila, on April 3, said “the Niu’e Jiao (Julian Felipe Reef) is part of China’s Nansha (Spratly) Islands. The waters around Niu’e Jiao has been a traditional fishing ground for Chinese fishermen for many years.”
The Chinese embassy made the statement after National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said “the Chinese Ambassador has a lot of explaining to do. As of our latest maritime and aerial surveillance, there are still forty-four (44) Chinese vessels that are in Julian Felipe Reef. I am no fool. The weather has been good so far, so they have no other reason to stay there. These vessels should be on their way out. Umalis na kayo diyan.”
The Chinese embassy added that it “has taken note of the perplexing statement by Philippine Defense Secretary on Chinese fishing vessels around Niu’e Jiao in the South China Sea.”
“We would refer him to the statement released by spokesperson of the Chinese Embassy on the presence of alleged Chinese “Maritime Militia Vessels” at Niu’e Jiao on 22 March 2022,” the Chinese embassy added.
“The Chinese fishermen have been fishing in the waters for their livelihood every year. It is completely normal for Chinese fishing vessels to fish in the waters and take shelter near the reef during rough sea conditions. Nobody has the right to make wanton remarks on such activities,” it noted. “China is committed to safeguarding peace and stability in the waters and we hope that authorities concerned would make constructive efforts and avoid any unprofessional remarks which may further fan irrational emotions.”