16 May 2014

China Reclaiming in Disputed Shoal

Chinese Reclamation
Whatever happens from now on in the disputed reef located at West Philippine Seas is anybody’s guess. One thing is certain though China will not stop intimidating its neighbors and will always tempt them to make the first shot.

Recognizing its vast military advantage over the Philippines, China aggressively reclaimed part of the reef called Mabini by Manila and Chigua by Beijing. The Philippine government just released military surveillance photos showing how Beijing deliberately tried to violate regional agreement not to escalate territorial disputes.

The Chinese Embassy in Manila had no immediate comment, but a Foreign Ministry spokesman in Beijing has said that the area is part of China's territory, and that any Chinese activities at the reef should be of no concern to Manila. This simply means, they want to show everyone that they can do whatever they want and provoke other claimants to make the next move.

The United States said it was aware of the reports that China is reclaiming land on a disputed reef in the South China Sea. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf urged self-restraint in activities that could escalate or complicate disputes.

"Major upgrades or the militarization of disputed land features in the South China Sea by any claimant has the potential to raise tensions," she said.

Foreign Affairs Department spokesman Charles Jose noted that a 2002 nonbinding agreement between China and the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) calls for restraint in conducting activities in the region that would "complicate or escalate disputes" and to not inhabit uninhabited areas.

"We want to show people that (China's) actions are part of its aggressive behavior to assert its claim in violation of the DOC," or Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, which was signed by China, Philippines and nine other ASEAN members, Jose said.

Philippine President Benigno Aquino III said a stronger accord and international arbitration would offer more lasting solutions to the territorial conflicts. A proposed legally binding "code of conduct" between China and Southeast Asian countries is seen as a mechanism to prevent a major armed conflict in the disputed waters. Manila sought international arbitration against Beijing in January 2013 after Chinese government ships took control of a shoal claimed by the Philippines off its main island of Luzon.

Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said Wednesday that it was not clear what China would build on the reclaimed land, but that an airstrip was a possibility.