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Duterte slams China's 'nasty words' to PHL pilots

President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday criticized anew China's behavior of shooing away a Philippine military aircraft that got close to its artificial islands in the disputed South China Sea.

"You know very well that we will not attack anybody there and we are a claimant of the group of islands. I told you we are not prepared to go to war with you so why do you have to say those nasty words? There's no need for that. We are your friend," Duterte said in a speech in Davao City.

Duterte reiterated that China could not claim sovereignty over its artificial islands.

He previously said that under international law “the right of innocent passage is guaranteed" and that no permission is needed to sail through the open seas.

China had rebuffed Duterte's rare criticism.

In a statement sent to Reuters, China's Foreign Ministry said the Spratly Islands are China's inherent territory and that China respects the right to freedom of navigation and overflight that all countries enjoy in the South China Sea under international law.

"But China has a right to take necessary steps to respond to foreign aircraft and ships that deliberately get close to or make incursions into the air and waters near China's relevant islands, and provocative actions that threaten the security of Chinese personnel stationed there," it said.

"China urges the relevant party to meet China halfway, and jointly protect the present good situation that has not come easily in the South China Sea," the ministry added, without elaborating.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said Duterte's pronouncements against China only showed the President's commitment to uphold the country's sovereign rights in some areas of the resource-rich waterway.

The incident came even as China and the Philippines repeatedly touted improved relations under Duterte who temporarily set aside the arbitral ruling that invalidated Beijing's excessive claims in order to forge stronger trade and economic ties with the Asian power.

Duterte vowed to raise the ruling at the proper time during his presidency. —JST, GMA News