Manila drops South China Sea hut construction on sandbar after Beijing gripes

Manila drops South China Sea hut construction on sandbar after Beijing gripes

Manila drops South China Sea hut construction on sandbar after Beijing gripes

Duterte and Xi are scheduled to meet Saturday on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Vietnam. They are not decorations.

China objected and sent ships to the area. They are there because China would need them.

"So it's about time, either in the bilateral or in the plenary, I should be bringing this important matter to the surface", Duterte said.

China claims most of the strategically vital sea, through which $5 trillion in annual shipping trade passes, and which is believed to sit atop vast oil and gas deposits.

According to the defense chief, the sandbar is located about 2.5 nautical miles from Thitu, an island known locally as Pagasa, which forms part of the island chain where China, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam and Taiwan have overlapping claims.

A United Nations-backed tribunal ruled a year ago that China's territorial claims in the sea were without legal basis. China refused to accept the ruling.

"China must realize that even if we're friends, everybody is insisting on what rights do they have in the passage of the China Sea, including us", he said.

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"We did not occupy it but some of our fishermen would like to establish a shelter there".

"Once assets are deployed to the Spratlys, it will make life much more hard for the Philippines and everyone else who has traditionally operated in and around the Spratlys and the waters west of the Philippines", said Amti Director Greg Poling. "In short, Sandy Cay is a Philippine land territory that is being seized, to put it mildly, or being invaded, to put it frankly, by China", Carpio said.

Duterte has sought closer ties with China since taking office past year, in clear contrast to a more adversarial approach taken by his predecessor, Benigno Aquino III, who took China to an global arbitration court in 2013 to settle the territorial dispute.

In turn, China has pledged billions worth of investments and backed Mr Duterte's counter-terrorism efforts and his controversial anti-crime drive. Nearly all of of the islands (that China controls) were militarized already.

He has refused to immediately take up with China a ruling by a United Nations -linked tribunal that invalidated Beijing's sprawling claims in the South China Sea, sparking criticism from nationalists and left-wing groups, which wanted him to demand immediate Chinese compliance with the landmark decision.

"That means those are arms that are poised to fly".

"I do not want to lose (the) friendship of China", he stressed. "'You know, Mr President, the whole of the ASEAN is anxious about how we should behave in the seas that are now militarized, '" said Duterte.

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