The Chinese military is “far behind” that of the US, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said, nearly a week after he dubbed the Western power as the only defense ally that the Philippines will have.
The Philippine military recently expressed concern over the Chinese “maritime militia” vessels that have been almost stationary since January near Pag-asa (Thitu) Island in disputed territory on the South China Sea.
A Twitter follower told Locsin that Beijing is making progress with striking capability, given the supposed development of new aircraft and surveillance ships.
“No. China is far, far, far, far behind the US in military destructive power,” Locsin replied.
“US military will remain 500 years ahead of the rest of the militaries in the world for the next 500 years. All aspiring powers must live with that prospect,” he added, quoting information from a book he did not identify.
Washington and Manila are bound by a half century-old Mutual Defense Treaty and military forces from the 2 countries countries engage in regular war games that see thousands of US troops and American military hardware brought to Manila.
Locsin last week said the US “is and will remain our only military ally.”
He also said the West Philippine Sea “is ours” and that China, from whom President Rodrigo Duterte sought investments and loans, “took it.”
China refuses to recognize a United Nations-backed arbitral tribunal’s ruling that invalidated its sweeping 9-dash line claim over the resource-rich waterway.
Philippine authorities have repeatedly raised concerns over China’s activities in the disputed waters, particularly militarization efforts, which Beijing denied.
Locsin said he was “surprised” that China has kept the same approach in the West Philippine Sea under the Duterte administration, which a Twitter follower said was “friendlier” with the Asian power compared to the previous administration.
“Why I am surprised. It is weird,” said Locsin.
“It is also distressing to the Panda huggers or the China lobbies in the Philippines; especially trolls on their payroll,” he added.
Manila would not give up its claim over disputed territories even as it seeks cooperation with Beijing, said Locsin.
“There is more to China than reefs; it is that more we want to connect with without sacrificing or ever ever ever giving up the reefs on which our national honor is anchored. It can be done,” he said.