Locsin jokes rising sea levels are the solution to China's 'illegal' structures

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 11) — Foreign Affairs Secretary Tedoro "Teddy Boy" Locsin, Jr. on Wednesday shared how he once poked fun at the country's sea dispute with China in one of the meetings of the United Nations Security Council.

"[The Philippines] is way ahead of whites on climate change although at the UN Security Council I said the Philippines is ambivalent about climate change raising sea levels; it may be the final solution to the repeated taking of our reefs by China because the sea will swallow their illegal constructions," Locsin said on Twitter.

"For the first time in a long time the Security Council laughed. I just had to lighten up the moment," the country's senior diplomat said in another tweet.

China's incursions in areas Manila claims and occupies in the West Philippine Sea have been the subject of diplomatic protests even as President Rodrigo Duterte nurtures friendship with the East Asian giant.

Beijing has built and developed artificial islands in contested areas in the South China Sea despite a July 2016 arbitration ruling that invalidated its sweeping claims to the global waterway.

In 2018, China reportedly finished transforming seven reefs that are also claimed by the Philippines in the Spratlys: Kagitingan, Zamora, Panganiban, Calderon, Burgos, McKennan and Mabini Reefs, internationally known as Fiery Cross, Subi, Mischief, Cuarteron, Gane, Hughes, and Johnson South, respectively.

The US military early this year reported that China even test-fired at least one anti-ship missile from one of these man-made islands. The Chinese government said it was just a regular live ammunition firing drill, and it was not aimed at any country.

Duterte has been criticized for his soft stance on the sea row. He has agreed to "ignore" or "set aside" the arbitral ruling to make way for a joint oil and gas exploration with China. He maintained he could not go to war with Beijing for fear of losing Filipino lives. Experts said the President should stop bringing up war because it has never been an option, urging him to take other ways to fight for the country's sovereignty.

READ: Carpio to Duterte: There are many ways to enforce arbitral ruling other than war