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Philippine foreign secretary directs unusually aggressive tweet at Beijing over South China Sea

Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs Teodoro Locsin speaks at a press conference after meeting Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Beijing, China on March 20, 2019.

Andrea Verdelli | Getty Images

Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs Teodoro Locsin Jr. slammed China with decidedly undiplomatic language on Twitter Monday, suggesting the Asian giant “get the f— out” as the two countries engage in a war of words over the South China Sea.

Locsin in the tweet accused China of straining its “friendship” with the Philippines. The foreign affairs secretary has been a vocal critic of China in the administration of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who sought closer ties with Beijing after taking office in 2016.

China’s embassy in the Philippine capital of Manila did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

In response to criticism of his rhetoric made by other Twitter users, Locsin said the “usual suave diplomatic speak gets nothing done.”

The Philippines and China have for years contested overlapping territorial claims in the South China Sea, a resource-rich waterway with a total area of about 1.4 million square miles where trillions in dollars of global trade pass. Beijing has in the past year appeared more assertive in the disputed waters.

Locsin’s Monday tweet followed a statement by the Philippine foreign affairs department, which protested the “illegal presence” of Chinese vessels in parts of the South China Sea that are internationally recognized as belonging to the Philippines.

The statement lashed out at “belligerent actions” by the Chinese coast guard against their Philippine counterparts in the vicinity of Bajo de Masinloc. It said the Chinese had engaged in “shadowing, blocking, dangerous maneuver, and radio challenges” on April 24 to 25.

It also protested the “incessant, illegal, prolonged, and increasing presence of Chinese finishing vessels and maritime militia vessels in Philippine maritime zones.”

Beijing last week maintained that it “enjoys sovereignty” over Bajo de Masinloc — which it calls Huangyan Island — and its surrounding waters. It urged the Philippines not to escalate disputes.

Bajo de Masinloc, also known as Scarborough Shoal, is a chain of reefs in the South China Sea that lies around 120 nautical miles from the nearest Philippine coast and 470 nautical miles from the nearest coast of China.

China claims most of the South China Sea, based on what it says are nine dashes that delineate Chinese territory in historic maps.

An international tribunal in 2016 dismissed the so-called nine-dash line as legally baseless — a ruling ignored by Beijing.

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