Duterte says Beijing should rethink its behavior in disputed S. China Sea

Philippine leader says China wrong to police airspace over disputed sea

Duterte revealed ASEAN's sentiments towards China as he called out Beijing for building artificial islands in the South China Sea.

China has alarmed and angered its neighbours by claiming dominion over most of the South China Sea and building a string of artificial islands and military airbases.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said in a rare rebuke of Beijing he wants China to rethink its conduct in the South China Sea and that it has no right to repel foreign aircraft and boats passing by its artificial islands in the disputed waterway.

The Philippines was close enough to be put in danger, he said.

"The Chinese counterpart has accepted that as a starting point because they do want cooperation and they do want the South China Sea or the West Philippine Sea an area of peace, development and cooperation rather than fighting or giving statements against each other in the global forum", he said.

"You can not create an island and say that the air above this artificial island is yours".

A Philippine air force plane on patrol near the Chinese-held islands received a particularly offensive radio message in late January when it was warned by Chinese forces that it was "endangering the security of the Chinese reef. It's man-made and you say that the air above this artificial island is yours".

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"That is wrong, because those waters are what [one] would consider worldwide sea and the right of innocent passage is guaranteed", said Duterte, who did not refer to any specific incident. "I don't think it will harm anyone if we all work together and find out what's in there", he added. He added that "the right of innocent passage is guaranteed".

There was no immediate response from the Chinese embassy in Manila.

Although the USA lays no claims to the strategic waterway, its Navy has deployed ships and aircraft in operations to promote freedom of navigation and overflight, but which China protests as foreign meddling in an Asian dispute.

The Filipino leader, however, said he would raise the verdict of the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) before his six-year term ends in 2022 despite China's rejection of the ruling.

However, the USA navy has forcefully asserted its right to freedom of navigation in the area, repeatedly sailing close to the man-made islands and drawing Chinese protests.

Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims in the sea.

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