Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Sunday said he was considering the issuance of a “demarche” to China, after it rebuffed a demand to leave Julian Felipe Reef in the Spratlys.

A demarche signifies a stronger political move. Locsin filed a diplomatic protest against China last March 21.

“China can say what it wants, the Philippines will do what it must to keep what’s hers by right. Irrelevant whether we possess commensurate military power to meet the challenge; we will not yield but die—or trigger World War 3. Not a bad outcome; living is overrated. Honor is all,” Locsin tweeted.

On April 3, the Chinese Embassy responded to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana’s demand for the remaining 44 Chinese vessels to leave Julian Felipe Reef.

The Chinese Embassy stood its ground, saying that the reef, which it referred to as Niu’e Jiao, was vital for Chinese fishermen not only for their livelihood but also as a place of refuge from harsh weather conditions at sea.

“The waters around Niu’e Jiao has been a traditional fishing ground for Chinese fishermen for many years. The Chinese fishermen have been fishing in the waters for their livelihood every year. It is completely normal for Chinese fishing vessels to fish in the waters and take shelter near the reef during rough sea conditions,” the Chinese embassy’s statement said.

“Nobody has the right to make wanton remarks on such activities,” it said.

The National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea reported that there were some 220 Chinese military vessels in the reef last March 20. A.V.R. Biscocho