Cayetano says he protested China radio warnings

Paterno Esmaquel II
Cayetano says he protested China radio warnings
In China, Philippine Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano makes a 'nonconfrontational' protest in a meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi

MANILA, Philippines – Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said he protested against China’s radio warnings in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) when he recently held a bilateral meeting with his Chinese counterpart, Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

“Yes,” Cayetano said, when asked on Thursday, August 30, if it can be considered a protest when he took up the radio warnings in his recent meeting with Wang.

“When you bring up matters – even when the President brought it up in his speeches – that’s a protest,” Cayetano said. He had said diplomatic protests can come in different forms, from notes verbale to verbal reminders.

“We can do protests in a nonconfrontational manner, and so far that has been more effective, and State Councilor Wang Yi responded right away,” Cayetano said in a press conference after the Department of Foreign Affairs budget briefing at the House of Representatives.

Cayetano and Wang met in China on August 22, said the Chinese foreign ministry. 

“Both sides had in-depth communication on ensuring the continued, stable and sound development of China-Philippines relations,” said the Chinese foreign ministry, which posted a photo of the two ministers making physical contact and smiling. 

This comes after CNN and the Associated Press earlier reported how China radioed warnings against US and Philippine planes flying over the South China Sea.

Reacting to this, President Rodrigo Duterte on August 14 said China should “temper” its frequent warnings to planes and ships traversing the South China Sea, parts of which the Philippines claims as the West Philippine Sea.  

“You cannot create an island and you say that the air above the artificial island is your own. That is wrong. The right to innocent passage is guaranteed,” Duterte said. 

In response to Duterte, China on August 16 asserted its right to warn certain planes flying over these waters. 

Cayetano to Wang: ‘We are concerned’

Cayetano said he “followed the President’s instruction to bring up some issues,” including the radio warning incident, in his meeting with Wang.

Asked about the message he relayed to Wang, Cayetano said: “First, it was easy because the President already said a lot of things in public. So of course I can’t go into exact details but basically I conveyed to him we’re very concerned, we’re friends, we’re co-claimants, we believe in our stand, in our rights, as you will stand for your rights, and we are concerned with the language, et cetera.”

Cayetano also said that before meeting with Wang, he consulted with National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana. He said he was informed that for the military, making warnings is “routine,” and “as you get closer to an area that has soldiers, of course you get more concerned.”

Cayetano earlier drew flak for claiming on May 30 that the Philippines has made 50 to 100 diplomatic protests against China – only to say in a Senate budget hearing on August 28 that they “haven’t counted” the number of protests.  

Senator Risa Hontiveros slammed Cayetano for claiming that the Duterte administration has filed 50 to 100 diplomatic protests against China. “A total fakery. Nonexistent. A figment of their imagination,” Hontiveros said on Wednesday, August 29.

Cayetano said it is no longer the Duterte administration’s strategy to publicize protests against China, as part of their “purpose-driven foreign policy.”

Critics assert, however, that the Philippines needs to publicize these protests to force China to behave. –

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Paterno Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at