PH: China now building up

DESPITE earlier Chinese claims that it has stopped its reclamation works in disputed portions of the West Philippine Sea, Western Command head Vice Admiral Alexander Lopez on Tuesday announced that China is still conducting construction activities in the area.

He also said that Chinese announcement of a reclamation halt last August is not true.

“They told the world that they have completed four reclamation projects [in the West Philippine Sea] but they never did announce that they have stopped their construction works. It’s just technicalities. It’s true that they have stopped all reclamation activities but now they are conducting vertical construction activities in Mischief, Subi and Fiery Cross Reefs,” Lopez said in Filipino.

The Western Command chief expects these facilities to be completed before the end of the year.

He said that the facilities in the above-mentioned reefs can be used for humanitarian and military use, adding that only time can tell.

Meanwhile, the Department of Foreign Affairs said it is optimistic the Philippines will get favorable decision from the international tribunal on its overlapping claims with China over the West Philippine Sea but admitted it has no enforcement power to implement the decision even if it is binding.

“That is why we need to rely on the international community to convince China to come around,” said DFA spokesperson Assistant Secretary Charles Jose Monday.

The Philippines filed an arbitration case against China in the international Arbitral Tribunal in connection with its claim in the West Philippine Sea. With PNA

While China is not participating in the case filed by the Philippines, Jose said the Chinese government released diplomatic statements claiming to be open to settling the dispute through bilateral negotiations.

The Philippines is fighting before the arbitral court on questions of historic rights; China’s Nine-Dash Line claim to the territory; Maritime claim; China’s violation of Philippines sovereignty; rights jurisdiction and damage to marine environments for illegal fishing practices. The arbitration case does not include yet the reclamation and construction of facilities by China.

Describing the China response as “salami slicing”, Jose said China is careful not to create conflict and attracting international attention to address issues by passing measures one at a time such as imposing fishing ban. If the China measures are taken collectively it has already done bigger steps to address issues not only with the Philippines but also with six other claimants in the South China Sea. - With PNA


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