Philippines says China poses ‘existential’ threat in South China Sea

The Philippines’ defence secretary Gilbert Teodoro said Manila did not ‘seek conflict’ but would not ‘back down if what is ours is illegally taken by somebody, especially a bully’ © Dita Alangkara/AP
Published June 12, 2024

Defence secretary accuses Beijing of trying to ‘bully’ Manila ‘into submission’ or ‘appeasement’

The Philippines faces an “existential issue” from Beijing’s threats in the contested South China Sea and will not back down from asserting its claims despite Chinese “bullying”, its defence secretary has said.

Beijing and Manila are locked in a territorial dispute in the South China Sea, where confrontations have escalated in recent months. China claims nearly all of the resource-rich waters, but the Philippines has taken a more assertive stance under President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

Last month, Marcos warned that any death of a Philippine citizen by “a wilful act” would be considered very close to an “act of war”. The hostilities have sparked fears of a broader conflict in the region, where Taiwan is also a flashpoint, by threatening to draw in the wider geopolitical rivalry between the US and China.

“This is an existential issue for us,” defence secretary Gilbert Teodoro told the Financial Times in an interview. “We do not seek conflict. But we will not back down if what is ours is illegally taken by somebody, especially a bully.”

Teodoro said the resources in the South China Sea were “necessary to sustain future generations of Filipinos” and that the country was dependent on the international trade that passes through its waters.



RELATED: West Philippine Sea: Teodoro urges vigilance vs sovereignty threats

Defense Sec. Gilberto Teodoro Jr. at the acceptance, turn-over, and blessing ceremony of the C-208B aircraft at Clark Air Base, September 19, 2023 | PHOTO: / Ryan Leagogo
Published June 12, 2024

MANILA, Philippines — Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. urged Filipinos to be vigilant against what he deemed as modern threats against the country’s sovereignty.

“Let us remain vigilant and ready to do our part in guarding and defending the freedom and independence of our Motherland,” Teodoro said in a statement in Filipino on Tuesday on the occasion of the Philippines’ 126th Independence Day.

“In the middle of new threats to our freedom and sovereignty, and the new challenges of modern times, the Department of National Defense will remain steadfast,” he added.

Teodoro also warned against fostering division among Filipinos to undermine the country’s freedom.

“Now more than ever, let’s strengthen the unity of our people to dismiss and refute the lies and misinformation spread by those who seek to suppress and divide us,” Teodoro said.




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