PH to file diplomatic protest vs China reef militarization

Lawrence Kim
January 10, 2018

"If it is true and we can prove that they have been putting soldiers and even weapons systems, that will be a violation of what they said", Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said at a press conference.

American observers have pointed to other signs of militarization in the area recently, expressing fears that China is developing the military power needed to interfere with the huge amount of commercial shipping that passes through the South China Sea. This caused further clashes with Vietnam, when in January 1988 some Vietnamese ships with building materials tried to approach the reef in an attempt to create structures there. Roque explained that China only committed not to conduct new reclamation activities in the South China Sea.

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque maintained the government opposes any militarization of the contested territory since it threatens the peace and security in the region.

"So the fact that they are actually using it now as military bases, as far as I'm concerned, is not new, new".

"We have always been against the militarization of the area". The reef has displayed more signs of construction every time China broadcasts footage of it; the December release made it nearly comically obvious that the reclaimed island now boasts a military facility.

Furthermore, according to Lorenzana, they have received reports of the Chinese Coast Guard allegedly harassing Filipino fishermen, though he refused to give details about it.

PH to file diplomatic protest vs China reef militarization
PH to file diplomatic protest vs China reef militarization

Lorenzana said if the new military installations would be proven, Manila might lodge a diplomatic protest against Beijing.

China is holding to a commitment not to reclaim more islands, Roque added, however.

China has been improving its facilities in its man-made islands in the South China Sea, some of which lie within the 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone, despite its legal defeat in a case filed by the Philippines before a United Nations-backed arbitral tribunal.

The presidential spokesperson, however, stressed that there was no "breach of good faith" since China was not reported to be reclaiming new islands in the disputed waters.

He added that a diplomatic protest against China is the "proper remedy" that the Department of Foreign Affairs may undertake.

"But all I'm saying is that there is still no breach of the good faith obligation for as long as China has not embarked on new reclamations", he said.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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