İlknur Şebnem Öztemel-TDO- 14.04.2017 Philippines' President Rodrigo Duterte has canceled his planned visit to Thitu island which is located in the disputed South China Sea and claimed by the Philippines, as Beijing warned him against the visit.
Previously, he said that he would go to the island in order to ‘’raise the Philippine flag’’ in the island and fortify it.
Recently, he said, "Because of our friendship with China and because we value your friendship I will not go there to raise the Philippine flag " in his speech to Phillipino community in Riyadh, during his week-long state visit in the Middle East to facilitate trade and investments and meet with Filipinos overseas.
Duterte said Beijing warned him as "there will likely be trouble” if every head of state of contending parties will go to the disputed islands and plant flags. Dutertesaid “They said, do not go there in the meantime, and just do not go there please. That’s why I correct myself because we value our friendship with China ". He added that he might send his son to the island.
Also, he accused the USA about the current maritime tensions in the region as it was not intervening to stop China building and arming artificial islands in the Philippines' exclusive economic zone.
Finally, Duterte acknowledged that thePhilippineswould reinforce, but not militarize, areas in the South China Sea controlled by Manila to maintain the geopolitical balance at the beginning of this week.