MANILA, Philippines — Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin apologised on Tuesday after tweeting an obscene phrase demanding China get out of Philippine-claimed territory in the West Philippine Sea in an outburst.
Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr blasted China with the profanity on Monday, when the Department of Foreign Affairs announced it had protested the Chinese coastguard’s “shadowing, blocking, dangerous maneuver and radio challenges” of Philippine coastguard ships patrolling and carrying out exercises from April 24 to 25 at disputed Scarborough Shoal.
Locsin said he was apologising only to his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, to ensure their friendship would continue. “I won’t plead the last provocation as an excuse for losing it; but if Wang Yi is following Twitter, then I’m sorry for hurting his feelings, but his alone,” Locsin tweeted.
President Rodrigo Duterte, who has nurtured friendly ties with China and its leaders since taking office in 2016, expressed his irritation in televised remarks on Monday night.
“Just because we have a conflict with China does not mean to say that we have to be rude and disrespectful,” Duterte said. “We have many things to thank China for the help in the past and its assistance now.”
The Philippines has issued dozens of diplomatic protests to China over the territorial dispute. Locsin and Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana have also issued increasingly acerbic remarks against Chinese actions in the disputed waters, despite Duterte’s friendly overtures to Beijing.
The escalating feud between Manila and Beijing started after more than 200 Chinese vessels suspected by Philippine authorities to be operated by militias were spotted in early March at Whitsun Reef. Lorenzana and Locsin demanded the vessels leave, then the government deployed navy and coastguard vessels to the area. China said it owns the reef and the Chinese vessels were sheltering from rough seas.
Many of the Chinese vessels have left Whitsun, about 175 nautical miles (325 kilometres) west of the Philippine province of Palawan, but several have remained moored in the area, part of a shallow atoll partly occupied by China and Vietnam. The Philippine government says the reef is within an internationally recognised offshore zone where Manila has exclusive rights to exploit fisheries, oil, gas and other resources.
SOURCE: SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST