Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos said Wednesday that tension in the disputed South China Sea “keeps him up at night,” but his country was committed to peace despite Beijing’s territorial claims.
Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Marcos said his nation was watching as a “bystander” whenever tensions rise after Chinese or US warships cross the region.
“If something goes wrong here we are going to suffer,” he said.
The situation “keeps you up at night, keeps you up in the day, keeps you up most of the time,” said Marcos, who discussed the issue with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a visit to Beijing earlier this month.
“It’s very dynamic, it is constantly in flux. So you have to pay attention to it to make sure that you are you are at least aware of the present situation so that you’re able to respond.”
China and the Philippines are at odds over the South China Sea, with Beijing claiming sovereignty over almost the entire area despite an international court ruling that its claims have no legal basis.
The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Brunei have overlapping claims to parts of the sea, and Manila ordered its military last month to boost its presence after a report that China had started reclaiming several unoccupied land features around the Spratly Islands.
“We have no conflicting claims with China. What we have is China making claims on our territory, and that … is how we approach the problem,” Marcos said.
But he said his country’s policy was a “commitment to peace.”
China and the Philippines vowed to resolve maritime disagreements through “friendly consultation” during Marcos’ visit.