Rodrigo Duterte to US: Why did you not send the armada?


Philippine president takes US to task over its refusal to challenge China on its South China Sea activities.

Duterte met with US Ambassador Sung Kim in his hometown of Davao on Monday [RTVM/Presidential Communications]

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte says he confronted the American ambassador about the US’ inaction in stopping China’s construction of man-made islands that are now at the heart of a regional dispute in the South China Sea.

“Why did you not send the armada of the 7th Fleet,” the straight-talking president said he told US Ambassador Sung Kim.

Duterte said in a speech on Wednesday that Kim was unable to reply to the question when they met on Monday in southern Davao city, where the president had a separate meeting with the Chinese ambassador.

Duterte said he told Kim he was surprised by what he described as US inaction when newspapers were publishing pictures of China’s construction of runways and other structures on the newly built islands in the disputed waters.

OPINION: Why China cares about the South China Sea?

“Had America really wanted to avoid trouble, early on … why did you not send the armada of the 7th Fleet, which is stationed there in the Pacific? You just make a U-turn and go there and tell them right on their face, stop it,” Duterte said to Kim, referring to the US naval fleet based in Japan.

Kim, who arrived in Manila last year as American ambassador, replied he was assigned elsewhere at the time and could not give an answer, Duterte said.

While criticising the US, Duterte did not berate China’s behavior in the South China Sea in his speech.

Duterte made the statement a day after a report was published saying China has nearly completed construction on three man-made islands allowing it to deploy combat aircraft and surface-to-air missiles.

The Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies analysed recent satellite photos and concluded that runways, aircraft hangers, radar sites and hardened surface-to-air missile shelters have either been finished or are near completion.

Latest reports say China has nearly completed construction on three man-made islands in the disputed area of South China Sea [Reuters]

China-Philippine talks

One of the islands mentioned in the report, Philippine-claimed Mischief Reef, was seized by China in 1995, drawing protests from Manila at the time.

Another island, Subi, is close to a Philippine-occupied island in the Spratly chain, which is claimed in whole or in part by China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei.

Duterte repeated he would not go to war with militarily superior China over the territorial conflict.

“The first thing that will be blasted away from this planet Earth will be Palawan,” Duterte said, referring to the western Philippine island province facing the disputed waters.

“All of the deposits of armaments of the Americans, including ours, are there.”

When Duterte took office in June, he reached out to China to mend relations strained under his predecessor, Benigno Aquino III, over the territorial dispute.

While taking a friendly stance towards Beijing, he lashed out at the United States for criticising his brutal campaign against illegal drugs.

Duterte thanked President Xi Jinping over the renewed friendship and return of normal trade relations, praising the Chinese leader as “very kind”.

Duterte, however, said he will invoke an international arbitration ruling that declared China has no historic title to the disputed waters if Beijing drills for oil or gas in a shoal contested by China and the Philippines.

On Wednesday, the Philippine foreign ministry announced that China and the Philippines have agreed to hold direct talks on the South China Sea dispute in May.

Duterte and Chinese ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua at a March 25 event in Mindanao [EPA]

Source: News agencies

This entry was posted in Air strips, Artificial island, Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, Biển Đông (SCS), China - Philippines relationship, US - Philippines relationship and tagged , , , by Trần Đình Hoành. Bookmark the permalink.

About Trần Đình Hoành

I am an attorney in the Washington DC area, with a Doctor of Law in the US, attended the master program at the National School of Administration of Việt Nam, and graduated from Sài Gòn University Law School. I aso studied philosophy at the School of Letters in Sài Gòn. I have worked as an anti-trust attorney for Federal Trade Commission and a litigator for a fortune-100 telecom company in Washington DC. I have taught law courses for legal professionals in Việt Nam and still counsel VN government agencies on legal matters. I have founded and managed businesses for me and my family, both law and non-law. I have published many articles on national newspapers and radio stations in Việt Nam. In 1989 I was one of the founding members of US-VN Trade Council, working to re-establish US-VN relationship. Since the early 90's, I have established and managed VNFORUM and VNBIZ forum on VN-related matters; these forums are the subject of a PhD thesis by Dr. Caroline Valverde at UC-Berkeley and her book Transnationalizing Viet Nam. I translate poetry and my translation of "A Request at Đồng Lộc Cemetery" is now engraved on a stone memorial at Đồng Lộc National Shrine in VN. I study and teach the Bible and Buddhism. In 2009 I founded and still manage on positive thinking and two other blogs on Buddhism. In 2015 a group of friends and I founded website CVD - Conversations on Vietnam Development ( I study the art of leadership with many friends who are religious, business and government leaders from many countries. In October 2011 Phu Nu Publishing House in Hanoi published my book "Positive Thinking to Change Your Life", in Vietnamese (TƯ DUY TÍCH CỰC Thay Đổi Cuộc Sống). In December 2013 Phu Nu Publishing House published my book "10 Core Values for Success". I practice Jiu Jitsu and Tai Chi for health, and play guitar as a hobby, usually accompanying my wife Trần Lê Túy Phượng, aka singer Linh Phượng.

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