MANILA, Philippines — Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said China’s considerable military power still pales in comparison with that of the United States, which he pointed out would remain the country’s only defense ally.
“China is far far far far behind the US in military destructive power,” he tweeted on Sunday as he disagreed with a netizen’s observation of China’s advanced striking capability.
Locsin claimed the US military “will remain 500 years ahead of the rest of the militaries in the world for the next 500 years [and] all aspiring powers must live with that prospect.”
“I know so,” he insisted when another netizen questioned him.
During the official visit of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last month, Locsin said there was no need to review the Philippines’ 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty with the United States.
He said he was satisfied with Pompeo’s assurance that the United States would come to the Philippines’ defense in case China’s aggression against the Philippines in the West Philippine Sea would lead to hostilities.
Locsin also claimed surprise that China continued to push back against the Philippines in the West Philippine Sea when the Duterte administration has been “friendlier” compared to the previous Aquino administration.
“Why I am surprised. It is weird,” he tweeted on Sunday.
“It is also distressing to the Panda huggers or the China lobbies in the Philippines, especially trolls on their payroll,” he added.
He stressed that the Philippines would not give up its sovereignty over the West Philippine Sea even though it seeks cooperation with China on various areas.
“There is more to China than reefs; it is that more we want to connect with without sacrificing or ever ever ever giving up the reefs on which our national honor is anchored. It can be done,” he said.
Locsin has publicly reproached China for the past two weeks since the Duterte government strongly protested the presence of hundreds of Chinese vessels surrounding Pag-asa (Thitu) and other nearby Philippine-occupied islands in the West Philippine Sea since January.
Salvo of protests
Through Twitter, he disclosed that he “fired off a salvo of diplomatic protests” before his official visit to China last month and accused China of taking what “is ours” in the West Philippine Sea.
“The stand is that it is ours. And they took it. World’s highest court ruled that. Period. Now the question is how to take it back,” he said, referring to the July 2016 ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration that recognized the Philippines’ sovereign rights within its 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone and rejected China’s vague claims.
In a rare rebuke, the Department of Foreign Affairs on April 4 said the presence of Chinese vessels around Pag-asa and other features within the Kalayaan group of islands was “illegal” and a “clear violation of Philippine sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction.”
It called on China to adhere to the agreement for both sides to exercise self-restraint in the South China Sea.
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