PH a province of China? 'Not now, not ever,' envoy says
MANILA, Philippines – Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua slammed the banners branding the Philippines as a "province of China," as he called these a "vicious attack" on the "independent foreign policy" pursued by President Rodrigo Duterte.
"It has never been any part of China," Zhao said of the Philippines. "No, not now, not ever."
"It's a kind of vicious attack, not only on the relations between the two countries, but also on the independent foreign policy pursued by President Duterte and his administration," Zhao said in an interview with reporters on Tuesday, July 17. (READ: Duterte: China never asked PH for 'one square of real estate')
Asked if installing the banners was offensive to China, the ambassador said, "I don't think it is offensive, but it is bad."
Banners that read, "Welcome to the Philippines, province of China," appeared on various Metro Manila footbridges on July 12, the second anniversary of Manila's legal victory against Beijing at The Hague over the South China Sea.
The banners took off from Duterte's suggestion, which he made in jest in February, that the country can be turned into, "Province of the Philippines, Republic of China."
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, however, said the banners were "absurd," and called these the handiwork of "the enemies of our government." Roque told the government's critics, "Try again. You need a better gimmick than that."
This comes as Duterte refuses to enforce the Hague ruling of July 12, 2016, because he is courting loans and investments from Beijing. Duterte is also pursuing an "independent foreign policy" – which critics said is independent only from the United States, but subservient to China.
Because of the Philippines' refusal to enforce the Hague ruling, former foreign secretary Albert del Rosario called the Philippines a "willing victim" to China, which he labeled a "bully" and "grand larcenist." – Rappler.com
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