China warned President Rodrigo Duterte of war if Philippines would insist on its ownership of West Philippine Sea.
Duterte said China issued the warning after he expressed the Philippines’ intent to drill oil in the resource-rich waters.
The president held bilateral talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation last week.
“I said, Mr. Xi Jinping, I will insist that it is ours and we will drill oil,” Duterte said in a speech in Davao City.
“Sinabi ko talaga harap-harapan, that is ours and we intend to drill oil there. My view is I can drill the oil. Ang sagot sa akin, ‘Well we are friends. We don’t want to quarrel with you. We want to maintain warm relationship, but if you force the issue we will go to war.”
Duterte has long expressed his admiration for Xi and said he would raise the arbitration ruling with him eventually, but needed first to strengthen relations between the two countries, which the Philippines is hoping will yield billions of dollars in Chinese loans and infrastructure investments.