MANILA (Alliance News) – China has warned the Philippines it would go to war if Manila insists on enforcing a tribunal’s ruling that invalidated Beijing’s sweeping claims in the disputed South China Sea, President Rodrigo Duterte said Friday.
In a televised speech at a coastguard event, Duterte said Chinese President Xi Jinping urged him to not “force the issue” and to maintain the “warm relationship” between the two countries.
“I said, ‘Mr Xi Jinping, I would insist that that is ours and I will drill oil there,'” he said. “I said it straight to his face … He said, ‘Please do not do that, because that is ours.'”
Duterte said that he countered by saying: “‘That is according to you, but I have the arbitral (tribunal ruling).'”
To which Xi reportedly responded: “Well if you force this, we’ll be forced to tell you the truth … We will go to war. We will fight you.”
The 72-year-old Philippine leader said he was making the threat public to dispel allegations by critics, including former foreign affairs officials, that he was being soft in dealing with China with regards the dispute.