Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s warning comes after China’s increased presence around Pag-asa island, also known as Thitu.
The island has reportedly been swarmed by hundreds of Chinese vessels, as per reports.
“I will not plead or beg, but I am just telling you that lay off the Pag-asa because I have soldiers there,” Duterte said in a press conference.
“If you touch it, that’s another story.
“Then I will tell my soldiers ‘prepare for suicide missions’.”
The Philippines President has previously kept China as a close ally in the hope to attract trade and investment.
The Philippine leader has called on the Chinese ships’ presence an “illegal” violation of Philippine sovereignty.
The country’s warning to China has reportedly strengthened the Philippine’s alliance with the US who are fighting to push back China’s hold on the disputed waters.
“China’s island building and military activities in the South China Sea threaten Philippine sovereignty, security and therefore economic livelihood, as well as that of the United States,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.
“As the South China Sea is part of the Pacific, any armed attack on Philippine forces, aircraft or public vessels in the South China Sea will trigger mutual defense obligations under Article 4 of our mutual defense treaty.”
The US Navy participated in drills alongside the Philippines to practice recapturing small islands seized by a hypothetical foreign military force.