By Genalyn Kabiling
DA NANG, Vietnam — China has stepped up its military buildup in the South China Sea while the world was busy worrying about the nuclear tension in the Korean peninsula, President Duterte bared on Thursday.
The President said latest intelligence photographs showed the increased military facilities, including missile batteries, installed by China on the “almost all” disputed territories.
“While we were looking intensely on what was evolving in the Korean Peninsula, the next photographs that ‘yung photo sa intelligence came up na meron na siyang lahat almost the islands were militarized already (The next photographs obtained by the intelligence showed almost all islands were militarized already),” Duterte said during a media interview after meeting the Filipino community on Thursday night.
“Meron ng mga batteries. Ibig sabihin ‘yung arms that are poised to fly. ‘Yun ang sinabi ko, which is really true (There were batteries which means the arms that are posted to fly. I’ve said this before, which is really true),” he added.
Concerned with China’s growing militarization of the disputed territory, the President said he would ask Chinese President Xi Jinping to agree toward the crafting of a code of conduct to ease the tension in the vital regional waterway.
Duterte said he would also inform Xi about Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ (ASEAN) “wary and worry” about the increased military buildup during their meeting on Saturday.
“It is not wrong for me to tell China. Look, you have — You know, already placed the heavy artillery there. So it puts us in a wary, worried and wary because we are also using the passage,” he said.
“Those arms and they are not there for any other purpose. They are not decorations. They’re there because China would need them. For what purpose, I really do not know,” he added.
Duterte explained that ASEAN wants a code of conduct that will define the dos and dont’s “so that we can avoid also the missiles that would follow us.”
“What are the things that we should avoid so that we can avoid also the missiles that would follow us. So what are the things that would irritate you? The code of conduct is very important,” he said.
“I’m not criticizing China. I’m just telling them that it is high time for us to have that code of conduct of the sea,” he added.
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