Philippines ‘concerned’ over report on China’s construction activities in Spratlys

Kaycee Valmonte – Best of Kaycee Valmonte

December 21, 2022 | 2:47 PM

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines said it was reviewing a report detailing how China is proceeding with the construction of artificial islands in vacant areas of the Spratly Islands.

In a statement sent to reporters late Tuesday night, the Foreign Ministry said it was “seriously concerned that such activities violate the Declaration of Conduct on Self-restraint and the 2016 Arbitration Award in the South China Sea.” ‘ said.

“We have asked relevant Philippine agencies to verify and verify the contents of this report.”

Bloomberg reported on Tuesday, citing unnamed Western officials, that Beijing has begun land reclamation in a vacant lot north of the Spratly Islands above Eldad Reef (Malvar Reef). Reports dating back to 2014 also focused on China’s landfill activities in the region.

Unidentified sources say similar construction activity is taking place on Lankium Cay (Panatha Island), Whitsun Reef (Julian Felipe Reef) and Sandy Cay.

When reporters reached out to the Chinese embassy in the Philippines for comment, the Chinese government on Wednesday called the Bloomberg report “fake news” and told reporters to refer to it instead. South China Sea Strategic Situational Survey Initiative According to its website, it is an “international research network and is not affiliated with any institution.”

‘Potential Serious Danger’

Manila claims sovereignty over parts of the Spratly Islands. The 2016 Hague ruling also noted that Beijing violated the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea over its island-building activities, and that the state failed to warn Chinese vessels against activities on the islands.

Read: How the Hague Court ruled on 15 Philippines claims

China has repeatedly downplayed the 2016 arbitration award, which has led the Philippines to file hundreds of diplomatic protests against Beijing’s activities.Manila also sent 193 letters to China this year, 65 of them were sent during the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

“This is a potential major foreign policy and national security crisis facing the Marcos Jr. administration,” said Julio Amador, CEO of Amador Research Services. rice field. In a Viber message on Wednesday.

Calling the Philippines to Action

The development comes weeks before President Ferdinand “BonBon” Marcos Jr. will make an official visit to China in January. Analysts said the chief executive should raise the issue with his counterpart, Chinese President Xi Jinping.

“Bloomberg’s report on China’s continued presence of maritime militias, satellite debris outbreaks, and new land reclamation activities has prompted the government to say what message President Xi Jinping will be sending when he visits Beijing,” Amador said. I have to think about whether I should

“Obviously he needs to express his disappointment that China continues to be unfriendly.”

Read: Marcos accepts Xi’s invitation to visit China in January

Amador said China, in return, could leverage its economic proposals to Manila if Marcos raised the issue. Manantan said the president needs to clarify the country’s “red line” in its foreign policy with China, especially when it comes to the West Philippine Sea.

“Our government [should have] Ability to separate foreign security and defense concerns from our economy [interests]”If you look at their Southeast Asian neighbors, they’re managing it well,” he said. When asked about Marcos Jr.’s scheduled visit to Beijing on Monday.

READ: US Vice President Harris Brings New Programs and Loans to Philippines

Manantan said that if the Philippines failed to assert the arbitration award during Marcos’ visit to China, “[undermine] “The current momentum of the U.S.-Philippines alliance,” along with Manila gaining more support from other nations to claim the historic ruling, Washington’s recent high-ranking officials to Manila I mentioned visiting.

RELATED: ‘Stronger Forces, Allies Needed to Complement Negotiations in West Philippine Sea’

Washington has made several statements this year that it would defend Manila in the event of an armed attack.

Most recently, the Philippine Navy made a statement of support shortly after its encounter with China after retrieving rocket debris on Pagasa Island, amid a growing presence of Chinese ships at the Iroquois and Sabina reefs in the Spratlys. I put it out.

READ: Embassy says US should let Philippines and China settle ‘ship flocking’ issue

“I think my upcoming visit to China will be tense if conversations like this are expected. It also sets the tone for our overall foreign policy.

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