Duterte warns China to cool its behavior in disputed seas

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has called on China to

In a speech delivered on Tuesday night at the presidential palace, Duterte, who has sought improved ties with Beijing since taking office two years ago, called on China to respect countries' right of passage through waters Scarborough Shoal and the Spratly Islands.

China has alarmed and angered its neighbours by claiming dominion over most of the South China Sea and building a string of artificial islands and military airbases.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has urged China to "temper" its behaviour in the South China Sea in a rare criticism of the Asian superpower over its programme of island-building in disputed waters.

Addressing China, Duterte said: "You can not create an island". The president added: "That is wrong because those waters are what we consider global sea". "They have to rethink that, because that would be a flashpoint someday", Duterte said.

Philippine officials have claimed military pilots are repeatedly warned off by Beijing as their planes approach Philippine-held Thitu island, which lies beside a Chinese air base built on top of Subi Reef. "Leave immediately, or you will bear responsibility for all the consequences!" a voice on a radio transmission suspected of coming from the artificial islands was heard saying.

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Speaking to reporters at the closing session of an worldwide migration conference in Manila, Cayetano also said all parties have to first set aside for the meantime their claims - territorial and sovereign rights - in order to move forward with the exploration. "I don't think it will harm anyone if we all work together and find out what's in there", he added.

Although the US lays no claims to the strategic waterway, its Navy has deployed ships and aircraft in operations to promote freedom of navigation and overflight, but which China protests as foreign meddling in an Asian dispute.

The Chinese military also reportedly issued warning to the U.S. military aircraft which also conducted over flights over the South China Sea.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration in July 2016 ruled that China's claims to the area have no legal basis.

Taiwan, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam also have claims in the sea.



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