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South China Sea

Duterte says Beijing is 'in possession' of South China Sea

Philippine leader claims US return to Subic Bay Naval Base raises specter of war

President Rodrigo Duterte on July 27 says the Philippines is too small to assert its claims in the South China Sea. "China is claiming it. We are claiming it. China has the arms. We do not." (Photo courtesy of Philippine Government)

MANILA -- Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday said Beijing was already "in possession" of the disputed South China Sea and Washington's return to a former naval base in the Southeast Asian country could raise the specter of war.

In his fifth state of the nation address, Duterte went off script and discussed at length the maritime dispute, which is increasingly becoming a focus of U.S.-China rivalry in the region.

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