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Duterte: I can’t stop China in Panatag

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DAVAO CITY—President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday said he would not stop China from building on a disputed shoal near the Philippine west coast because it was too powerful.
DAVAO CITY—President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday said he would not stop China from building on a disputed shoal near the Philippine west coast because it was too powerful.
Mr. Duterte made the statement in reaction to reports that China would set up an environmental monitoring station on Panatag Shoal (international name: Scarborough Shoal) off the coast of Zambales province.
“We cannot stop China from doing those things. Even the Americans could not stop them,” he said during a press conference here shortly before flying for his state visit to Burma (Myanmar).
“What do you want me to do? Declare war against China? I can’t. We will lose all our military and policemen tomorrow and we [will be] a destroyed nation,” he told a press conference before departing for a visit to Burma.
Mr. Duterte said he would tell the Chinese: “Just keep it (the waters) open and do not interfere with our Coast Guard.”
He also brushed aside concerns over Chinese survey ships that had been seen near Benham Rise—waters east of the main island of Luzon that have been recognized by the United Nations as indisputably Philippine territory.
Earlier this month, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said he was very concerned that the Chinese ships had been seen at that location, sometimes for as long as a month.
But Mr. Duterte said: “So what if they stop there? They admit it is within the territory of the Philippines. That does not satisfy you?”
He described the complaints against China as “nit-picking.

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