Baku, April 13, AZERTAC
Philippines' President Rodrigo Duterte has cancelled a planned visit to an island the Philippines claims in the disputed South China Sea, after Beijing warned him against the visit, according to Reuters.
The Philippine leader last week announced his plan to raise the Philippine flag in the island of Thitu and fortify it with barracks, setting off alarm bells.
"Because of our friendship with China and because we value your friendship I will not go there to raise the Philippine flag," Duterte said in a speech before the Filipino community in Riyadh late Wednesday.
Duterte 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.
The popular president is on a week-long state visit in the Middle East to facilitate trade and investments, and meet with Filipinos overseas. The Middle East is the second largest source of remittances, with more than one million Filipino workers sending home $7.6 billion in last year, government data showed.
Duterte, 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.
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