Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte reiterated that he would not provoke China into a war following reports that the Chinese military landed long-range bombers on an airstrip in the disputed South China Sea.
“You know they have the planes, not stationed in Spratly [Islands] but near the provinces facing … Chinese provinces facing the Spratly and the China Sea. And with their hypersonic, they can reach Manila within seven to 10 minutes,” he said in a speech on Saturday in Cebu, according to a transcript released by his office on Sunday.
Facing criticism over his apparent inaction on China’s increased military activity in the South China Sea, Duterte questioned where his country would end up should war break out in the region.
“What will we arm ourselves with if there’s a war? Will we resort to slapping each other? I couldn’t even buy myself a rifle. It was given to me. So how will we even fight with the Chinese?” he said.