Beijing, April 13: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte who had planned on visiting an island the Philippines claims in the disputed the South China Sea, now it is said to be canceled after Beijing warned him against the visit. Last week Philippine President announced his plan to raise the Philippine flag on the island of Thitu and strengthen it with barracks setting off alarm bells.
Rodrigo Duterte in his speech on Wednesday stated "Because of our friendship with China and because we value your friendship I will not go there to raise the Philippine flag”. He added "They said do not go there in the meantime and just do not go there, please. I will correct myself because we value our friendship with China". He might just send his son to the island instead of him directly going.
Philippine President said Beijing warned him that there will likely be trouble if every head of state of contending parties will go to the disputed islands and plant flags.
Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam including China claims most of the South China Sea through which about $5 trillion (£4 trillion) in ship-borne trade passes annually. Philippine President who led the warming of ties with China had blamed the United States for the current maritime tensions for not intervening to stop China building and arming artificial islands in the Philippines exclusive economic zone.
Duterte previously stated that the Philippines will reinforce but not militaries areas in the South China Sea controlled by Manila to maintain the geopolitical balance.