Manila [Philippines], May 14 (ANI): President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday said that Philippine ships in the West Philippine Sea will not move an inch backward following reported incursions by nearly 300 Chinese militia vessels in the disputed territory.
"Our vessels are now there in Pag-asa and in other areas, we will not move an inch backward," said Duterte in his public address, reported Manila Times.
Maritime authorities on Wednesday reported that there were 287 Chinese maritime militia vessels scattered in the Philippines' exclusive economic zone in the West Philippine Sea.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr on Wednesday ordered the filing of another diplomatic protest against Beijing over the recent incident.
Despite his pronouncement, Duterte also reiterated that he does not want a quarrel with China.
I don't want to quarrel with China. I really don't want to. I repeat, we owe them a big debt of gratitude," said Duterte.
China claims sovereignty over almost the entire South China Sea and has overlapping territorial claims with Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan.
China has been increasing its maritime activities in both the South China Sea and the East China Sea over the past few months, partly in response to Beijing's concerns over the increasing US military presence in the region because of escalating Sino-US tensions.
Beijing's rising assertiveness against counter claimants in the East and South Sea has resulted in unprecedented agreement across the Indo-Pacific. (ANI)