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Asia Minute: Diplomatic Profanities and the South China Sea

philippines_south_china_sea_ap.jpg chinese coast guard
Philippine Coast Guard via AP
In this April 27, 2021, photo provided by the Philippine Coast Guard, its personnel patrol beside ships said to be Chinese militia vessels at Sabina Shoal in the South China Sea.

Tensions in the South China Sea have spilled over to the world of diplomacy in an unusual way this week. It’s a situation that involves China, the Philippines, social media and some explosive language.

Chinese ships in the South China Sea continue to spark concerns from surrounding countries and their allies, especially when those ships cross into disputed waters.

In March, the Philippines Defense Department said more than 200 Chinese vessels were occupying a part of the Spratly Islands claimed by the Philippines.

The move drew criticism from Manila and from Washington.

China said they were fishing vessels sheltering from a storm. Eventually, they left.

The Philippine military has since conducted training exercises in the area, and on Monday the Philippine Foreign Ministry accused China of harassing coast guard vessels by “shadowing, blocking, dangerous maneuvers.”

It also protested the “incessant, illegal, prolonged and increasing presence” of Chinese ships in its economic zones.

The Foreign Minister himself followed up with a much more pointed tweet on his personal account.

He wrote, “China, my friend, how politely can I put it? Let me see—o—get the (expletive) out.”

President Rodrigo Duterte dismissed the comments saying, “Just because we have a conflict with China doesn’t mean to say that we have to be rude and disrespectful.”

A spokesman said Duterte’s message was that “in diplomacy, there is no room for profanities,” adding that he “told members of his Cabinet that only he is allowed to swear.”

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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