Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday said that China remains a benefactor amid brewing tensions in disputed waters and while Manila strives to obtain vaccines, including from Beijing, after its Indian deal faces delays.
“China remains our benefactor,” Duterte said in a taped televised briefing. “Just because we have a conflict with China, doesn’t mean to say that we have to be rude and disrespectful.”
Duterte made the comment after Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs Teodoro Locsin earlier on Monday, using his personal Twitter account, posted an expletive-laced demand for China to remove ships from areas in the disputed South China Sea.
Locsin yesterday apologized to Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi (王毅) “for hurting his feelings.”
Tensions between the two nations have risen in the past few weeks, with the Philippines repeatedly protesting Chinese ships’ presence, which Beijing has maintained is normal and legitimate.
At a 2016 election debate, Duterte said he would ride a jet ski to the South China Sea to personally stake claims if elected.
Meanwhile, COVID-19 vaccine orders from India might be delayed to September from this quarter or be reduced as infections in the South Asian nation surge, said Carlito Galvez Jr, a retired Philippine Army general who is the nation’s vaccine czar.
A supply deal for 30 million Novavax Inc shots with the Serum Institute of India is the Philippines’ biggest.
Galvez said that his government is negotiating for a monthly delivery of as many as 4 million doses from China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd and 2 million shots of Russia’s Sputnik V.
For the country to achieve herd immunity, 500,000 people must be vaccinated each day, Galvez said.
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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has said that he would not withdraw navy and coast guard boats patrolling the South China Sea, insisting that the country’s sovereignty over the waters is not negotiable. Tensions over the sea have spiked as Beijing refuses to pull out vessels from the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone and Manila steps up maritime patrols. China claims almost all of the waters of the South China Sea, where it has established military outposts on artificial islands. Taiwan has virtually identical claims. Duterte is under growing domestic pressure to take a harder line, but has been reluctant to confront China over