China calls for 'basic etiquette' after outburst by Philippine minister

Philippine Coast Guard personnel patrolling near Chinese vessels at Whitsun Reef, on April 14, 2021.
Philippine Coast Guard personnel patrolling near Chinese vessels at Whitsun Reef, on April 14, 2021.PHOTO: PHILIPPINE COASTGUARD/AFP

BEIJING (REUTERS) - China urged the Philippines on Tuesday (April 4) to observe "basic etiquette" and eschew megaphone diplomacy after the South-east Asian nation's foreign minister used an expletive-laced Twitter message to demand that China's vessels leave disputed waters.

The comments by Mr Teodoro Locsin, known for occasional blunt remarks, follow Manila's protests over what it calls the illegal presence of hundreds of Chinese boats inside the Philippines' 200 nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

In a statement, China's foreign ministry urged the Philippines to respect the nation's sovereignty and jurisdiction, and stop taking actions that complicate the situation.

"Facts have repeatedly proved that microphone diplomacy cannot change the facts, but can only undermine mutual trust," it said.

"It is hoped that relevant people in the Philippines will comply with basic etiquette and their position when making remarks."

The ministry cited comments by Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte that differences between the countries on individual issues should not affect friendship and cooperation.

"China has always worked, and will continue to work with the Philippines, to properly resolve differences and advance cooperation through friendly consultations."

China claims almost the entire South China Sea, through which about US$3 trillion (S$4.01 trillion) of ship-borne trade passes each year.

In 2016, an arbitration tribunal in the Hague ruled that its claim was inconsistent with international law.

"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," Mr Locsin said on Twitter on Tuesday, referring to the Chinese government's top diplomat.

Mr Duterte has reminded his officials that there is no room for cursing in the matter of diplomacy.

"Only the President can cuss," his spokesman, Harry Roque, told a regular news conference.