The Philippines’s top diplomat has demanded in an expletive-laden social media message that China’s vessels leave the country’s waters, the latest salvo in a war of words between Manila and Beijing over the disputed South China Sea.
“China, my friend, how politely can I put it? Let me see… O… GET THE F*** OUT,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr wrote on Twitter on Monday.
After his comments lit up social media, Locsin commented further on Tuesday: “If Wang Yi is following Twitter then I’m sorry for hurting his feelings but his alone”, referring to his Chinese counterpart.
The latest spat over the resource-rich waters – which China claims almost entirely – flared up in March after hundreds of Chinese boats were spotted inside the Philippines’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
I won’t plead the last provocation as an excuse for losing it; but if Wang Yi is following Twitter then I’m sorry for hurting his feelings but his alone. It’s been my elusive dream to copy until I attain in mind and manner the elegance of Wang Yi. His opinion alone matters. He… https://t.co/LgvHujxzYc
— Teddy Locsin Jr. (@teddyboylocsin) May 4, 2021
China has refused repeated calls from the Philippines to withdraw the boats and tensions have intensified as Manila steps up maritime patrols in the area. Beijing has refused to acknowledge the Philippine EEZ in the South China Sea as defined by the International Court of Arbitration at The Hague.
Locsin frequently uses strong language on social media and defended his latest outburst by saying: “Usual suave diplomatic-speak gets nothing done.”
He also likened China to “an ugly oaf forcing your attentions on a handsome guy who wants to be a friend”.
The order came as his Foreign Affairs Department accused China’s coastguard of “belligerent actions” against Filipino boats involved in maritime drills near the contested Scarborough Shoal, which Beijing took control of from the Philippines in 2012.
China-controlled Scarborough is one of the region’s richest fishing grounds and a flashpoint between the two countries, which have rival claims.
The department said it has lodged a diplomatic protest over the Chinese vessels’ actions towards the Southeast Asian country’s coastguard during patrols and training exercises near the reef last month.
The department said the presence of the Chinese boats was a “blatant infringement of Philippine sovereignty”.
China’s foreign ministry said “megaphone diplomacy” would “undermine mutual trust” and urged Locsin to conform to diplomatic etiquette.
Scarborough Shoal is 240 kilometers (150 miles) west of the Philippines’ main island of Luzon.
China seized it in 2012 and has subsequently ignored a 2016 international tribunal decision that declared its historical claim over most of the South China Sea to be without basis.
Once-frosty ties between the two countries had warmed under Duterte, who set aside the ruling in exchange for promises of trade and investment that critics say have largely not materialized.
Facing growing domestic pressure to take a harder line, Duterte said last week the Philippine maritime patrols would continue, insisting its sovereignty over the waters was not negotiable.