Sea dispute: Philippine minister issues expletive-laced tweet

MANILA • The Philippine foreign minister yesterday demanded in an expletive-laced message on Twitter that China's vessels get out of disputed waters, marking the latest exchange in a war of words with Beijing over its activities in the South China Sea.

The comments by Mr Teodoro Locsin, known for making blunt remarks at times, follow Manila's protests for what it calls the "illegal" presence of hundreds of Chinese boats inside the Philippines' 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone.

"China, my friend, how politely can I put it? Let me see… O…GET THE F*** OUT," Mr Locsin said in a tweet on his personal account.

"What are you doing to our friendship? You. Not us. We're trying. You. You're like an ugly oaf forcing your attentions on a handsome guy who wants to be a friend; not to father a Chinese province…" he said.

China's foreign ministry said "megaphone diplomacy" would "undermine mutual trust" and urged Mr Locsin to conform to diplomatic etiquette.

Chinese officials have said the vessels at the disputed Whitsun Reef are fishing boats taking refuge from rough seas.

China claims almost the entire South China Sea.

In 2016, an arbitration tribunal in The Hague ruled that the claim, which Beijing bases on old maps, was inconsistent with international law.

In a statement yesterday, the Philippine foreign ministry accused China's coast guard of "shadowing, blocking, dangerous manoeuvres, and radio challenges" on its coast guard that patrolled and trained last month in Scarborough Shoal - an area the South-east Asian nation says is within its territory.

China's claims over the shoal that is 124 nautical miles from the Philippines "is without basis" and Beijing has "no law enforcement rights in these areas", the ministry said.

REUTERS, BLOOMBERG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 04, 2021, with the headline 'Sea dispute: Philippine minister issues expletive-laced tweet'. Subscribe