MANILA (UPDATED) — China on Tuesday told Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. to mind his "basic manners" following his recent expletive-laden tweet demanding Beijing's ships to leave Philippine waters.
"We hope that [a] certain individual from the Philippine side will mind basic manners and act in ways that suit his status," Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin said in a regular press briefing in Beijing, when asked by a reporter about Locsin's remarks.
On Monday, Locsin tweeted: “China, my friend, how politely can I put it? Let me see… O…GET THE F*** OUT" as the foreign office protested China's illegal presence in the West Philippine Sea.
The top Filipino diplomat on Tuesday apologized to China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi for supposedly hurting his feelings, emphasizing that he was only sending his apologies to "him alone."
Palace spokesman Harry Roque said Locsin also personally apologized to Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian.
Despite the development, however, Wang reiterated that some features in the West Philippine Sea belonged to their country.
Beijing does not recognize the 2016 ruling of an arbitral tribunal in The Hague, which junked its "historical" claims to almost the entire South China Sea, within which is the smaller West Philippine Sea, the country's exclusive economic zone in the disputed waters.
Wang also urged Philippine authorities to stop its maritime drills and training exercises in the vicinity of Bajo de Masinloc, or what they call Huangyan Island, as these areas are part of China's territory and that “its adjacent waters are under China's jurisdiction.”
"China urges the Philippine side to earnestly respect China's sovereignty and jurisdiction, and stop taking actions that may complicate the situation. Facts have proven time and time again that megaphone diplomacy can only undermine mutual trust rather than change reality," he said.
He added that Beijing would "remain committed to properly handling differences" and through "friendly consultation" while boosting its ties with Manila despite the maritime dispute.
"Just as Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said, the differences and disputes between the two countries on some issues should not affect the overall friendship and cooperation, which is also an important consensus reached by China and the Philippines on many occasions," the Chinese official pointed out.
"China... will continue to provide assistance within its capacity to the Philippines in its efforts to fight the epidemic and resume economic development."
The Philippines has so far received 3.5 million COVID-19 shots from China's Sinovac, 1 million doses of which have been donated by Beijing for the country's virus response.
Duterte has said the Philippines owes China a debt of gratitude for making vaccines available to the country.
LOCSIN: CLEAVER NOT RIGHT INSTRUMENT
In a tweet on Tuesday night, Locsin said he would "mind basic manners" and that he would act as what he had done "usually... in ways that suit my status."
"I did it well with China in the UN. I just lost it. But these constant provocations…no they’re no excuse for dropping manners."
In a now-deleted tweet, he also vowed that his outburst against China would not happen again after Chinese officials reminded him about his conduct.
The DFA chief said he would do so “unconditionally” whether or not “China minds international law, UNCLOS, the Arbitral Award and the Philippine maritime features of a friendly and supportive neighbor.”
He added that he would need to "press harder" for that Code of Conduct in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
The official also insisted that “the entirety of the West Philippine Sea and Scarborough Shoal belongs to the Philippines" amid China's reiteration that the area is supposedly under their authority.
“I don’t deny China’s claim; it is free to say whatever it wants; but I do insist that the entirety of the West Philippine Sea and Scarborough Shoal belongs to the Philippines not by mere claim but by absolute right and legal victory that, President Duterte said, can never be compromised or alienated in any manner and to an extent however small,” he explained.
“Every drop of water and every feature within our Exclusive Economic Zone—and outside it like Pag-asa—is ours and not and never China’s. The President no less said it before the UN General Assembly.
Locsin also pointed out that he did not engage in “megaphone diplomacy” but had an “outburst of temper,” blaming China for “repeated provocations in close succession” against the Philippines.
“No megaphone; it was an outburst of temper under repeated provocations in close succession by China against its Philippine neighbor which has kept reaching out for a measure of respect. It won’t happen again. Many any ways to skin a cat; a cleaver is not the right instrument,” he noted.
Chinese Coast Guard vessels remained in the country's waters as of April 22, the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) earlier said.
The Philippine Coast Guard and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources in late April conducted maritime drills in the disputed areas, even as Chinese ships have been sighted there since early March.
The deployment of additional vessels and aircraft in the area aims to intensify operations against illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing, and to "increase safety of life at sea operations," the NTF-WPS earlier said.
— With reports from Willard Cheng and Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News