'Let them do it': Philippines foreign minister says on US threat to repel China from South China Sea islands

Philippine Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay said on Jan 13, 2017, that any future action by the United States to drive China from its artificial islands in the South China Sea would be its own prerogative.
Philippine Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay said on Jan 13, 2017, that any future action by the United States to drive China from its artificial islands in the South China Sea would be its own prerogative. PHOTO: REUTERS

MANILA (REUTERS) - The Philippine foreign minister on Friday (Jan 13) said any future action by the United States to drive China from its artificial islands in the South China Sea would be its own prerogative, and in its own national interests.  

Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay was responding to a question during a television interview about comments by US Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson, who said China should be denied access to the islands it has built in disputed territory.

“They said that they would prevent China from doing or undertaking these kind of activity. If it wants to do that, they have the force to do so, let them do it,” Yasay said, referring to Tillerson’s remarks on Wednesday to US senators.  

China has built several artificial islands in the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines, which an arbitration tribunal last year ruled unlawful.