Following on from ongoing maritime tensions in the South China Sea with Beijing, Filipino President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said on Saturday that his nation “would not lose an inch” of land.

The Southeast Asian country expressed its displeasure this week over what it described as Beijing’s “aggressive activities” that have fueled a protracted territorial conflict over the South China Sea.

Ferdinand BongBong Marcos Jr.

The country has experienced increased geopolitical tensions, which go against our principles of peace and endanger the security and stability of the nation, the region, and the entire globe, Marcos said in a speech at a military alumni homecoming ceremony.

In line with our constitution and international law, we will continue to maintain our territorial integrity and sovereignty, and we will cooperate with our neighbors to ensure the safety and security of our peoples.

An inquiry for comment was not answered by the Manila-based embassy of Beijing. The coastguard in China, according to the foreign ministry, operated legally.

As a result of Beijing’s “growing frequency and severity of measures” against the Philippine Coast Guard and Filipino fishermen in the South China Sea, Marcos called China’s envoy on Tuesday to express his “deep concern.”

On Tuesday, the Philippines’ foreign ministry also lodged a diplomatic complaint after Manila’s coastguard reported that China had fired a “military-grade laser” at one of its ships aiding a troop resupply operation, briefly rendering its crew on the bridge blind.

Yet, Marcos believes that the event with the laser pointer is inadequate to enact a mutual defense agreement with the United States, a longtime ally.

“If we activated it, what we are doing is raising, exacerbating the tensions in the area, and I think that would be counterproductive,” Marcos told reporters.

The Chinese marine militia, coast guard, and navy, including the incident with the laser pointer, were allegedly acting with greater vigor, according to Marcos, who claimed to have spoken with the Chinese ambassador to Manila about it.

The recent Chinese steps occurred just one month after Marcos’ state visit to Beijing, during which the two nations vowed to resolve differences amicably and expand their ties.

A 2016 ruling by an international tribunal in The Hague rejected China’s claims to vast portions of the key waterway, which is used to transport roughly $3 trillion in ship-borne trade annually.