Duterte not Keen on Protesting Against China's Militarization of the South China Sea
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday said that Manila would not protest against China's militarization of the disputed South China Sea despite the latter's reported installation of weapons systems on the artificial islands it has built in the disputed strategic waterway.
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Duterte said he would not impose anything on China amid reports last week that Beijing had installed anti-aircraft and anti-million systems on its man-made islands in direct violation of a Hague-based court ruling.
Recent satellite images released by a US think tank last Wednesday showed China had installed military outposts, anti-missile systems, and equipment on seven of its newly-created islands in the region including the Fiery Reef Cross, the Subi Island, and the Mischief Reef.
Not ready for war
"In the play of politics, now, I will set aside the arbitral ruling," Duterte told reporters in Manila during a news conference after arriving from state visits in Cambodia and Singapore on Saturday.
Duterte was referring to a July Hague-based court ruling favoring the Philippines' claims to the disputed sea and rejecting China's nine-dash line. The court said Beijing had violated international law and the Philippines' rights to explore its resources within its exclusive economic zone.
The Philippine leader reiterated that Manila is not ready for a war with China and pointed to the US as the one raring to get into a fight with Beijing.
The Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), which released the satellite images, said China had built its recent military installations in the disputed waters starting June this year.
The CSIS said China had built its military installations on the disputed islands which include airstrips, barracks, radar stations, lighthouses, and other facilities in recent years.
"China's new island armaments show that Beijing is serious about defense of its artificial islands in case of an armed contingency in the South China Sea," the CSIS said in a report.
China's foreign ministry has defended Beijing's military installations in the region saying it is the country's "right" to defend itself from potential enemies and that it is "lawful and legitimate" for it to establish the defensive military infrastructure on islands where it has 'indisputable sovereignty."
"If someone makes a show of force at your front door, would you not ready your slingshot?" Beijing said in a statement last Friday.