World

Duterte scraps Spratlys project after China reaction

MANILA: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte ordered troops to scrap plans to build a fishermen's shelter on a sandbar in the disputed South China Sea after Beijing complained, his defence chief said yesterday.

The military in August brought bamboo and palm roofing materials to one of three sandbars that emerged near one of their garrisons in the Spratlys archipelago in the contested sea, Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said.

"We tried to put some structures (on) one of the sandbars near our island and the Chinese reacted," Mr Lorenzana told a regional security forum.

"And so the president came to know about this and he said: 'Let's pull out'."

The apparent reversal comes at a time of improving relations between China and the Philippines, which until recently had bitterly contested their overlapping claims to the sea.

Mr Lorenzana later told reporters that Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano advised Mr Duterte there was an agreement between the two nations not to put up structures on new South China Sea features. - AFP

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