Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has warned of a “bloody” confrontation should China try to invade the country’s territories in the disputed South China Sea.
While insisting that he would first seek a peaceful resolution, Duterte told soldiers on Wednesday that they should be prepared to defend the country over the territorial dispute.
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“We do not want a quarrel,” he said. “I would walk the extra mile to ask for peace for everybody.
“But I am sure and I guarantee to them that if they invade us, it will be bloody and we will not give it to them easily,” he added.
Duterte also said he would “not raise hell now” about an international court ruling that China had no legal right to claim a large swath of the South China Sea, in a case brought by the Philippines.
But he stressed that “there will come a time that they have to do some reckoning about this”.
China, which did not participate in the arbitration case at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, has rejected the court’s ruling as “null and void”.
The Philippines has repeatedly called on China to respect international law in resolving maritime territorial disputes and stressed that any talks would have to be based on the court’s ruling.
Apart from China and the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Vietnam also have overlapping claims to the South China Sea, a key shipping lane rich in mineral and marine resources.