Philippines to tackle China on South China Sea militarisation claims

ADVERTISING
South China Sea
The competing territorial claims over the South China Sea. Yesterday a leading US think tank claimed that China has been busily developing its military capacities in the contested waters while the world’s attention has been turned to North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano on Friday assured that the Philippines would raise the issue of reported Chinese developments in the South China Sea in an upcoming bilateral consultative meeting with China.

Cayetano said this when asked about the recent Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative report, which said China has completed or began working on about 72 acres, or 290,000 square meters in Spratlys and in the Paracels within 2017.

ADVERTISING

Cayetano said he is aware of reports about “certain activities” in the strategic waterway, but assured that the Department of National Defense and the Armed Forces of the Philippines are always on a close watch.

Cayetano guaranteed that on a bilateral level, this subject will be addressed, particularly during the China-Philippines bilateral consultative meeting expected to be held in the first quarter of 2018.

“If it’s brought up in multilateral, ‘di tayo aatras (we will not back off) from discussing it and coming up with a solution,” he added.

ADVERTISING

He revealed that in old areas where claimants already constructed infrastructure in the past, countries are “still building.”

Sa (In) old areas, we monitored that a lot are still building sa kanilang hawak (where they have claims). Sa (In) Pagasa, we’re repairing. Malaysia, Vietnam, China are repairing. But everyone is saying it’s defensive,” he said. “So that’s where the Code of Conduct (COC) comes in.”

He said not a part of Pagasa or any of its features has been lost since President Rodrigo Duterte became president.

“We lost a lot in the previous administration and administrations,” he said. “Again, we’re not blaming them, but we’re trying to solve that problem.”

ADVERTISING