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  • Aug 30, 2014
  • Updated: 3:00pm
NewsAsia
MARITIME DISPUTE

Philippines protests to China over land reclamation in disputed reef

Manila says Beijing is reclaiming land on a reef in the disputed Spratly Islands and seems to be constructing an airstrip

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 14 May, 2014, 9:40am
UPDATED : Thursday, 15 May, 2014, 2:04am

The Philippines has protested against China's reclamation of land at a disputed reef in the South China Sea that can be used to build an airstrip.

Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said Manila filed a diplomatic protest against the reclamation on the Johnson South Reef last month, but Beijing rejected it on grounds that the reef is part of Chinese territory.

Asked if China was building an airstrip on the reef, which is also claimed by Vietnam, Del Rosario said: "That's one possibility."

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying would not confirm the Philippine claims but said China had sovereignty over the reef.

"Whatever construction China carries out on the reef is a matter entirely within the scope of China's sovereignty. I don't know what particular intentions the Philippines has in caring so much about this," Hua said.

Philippine officials said the nation's military surveillance aircraft had been documenting large-scale earth-moving activity on the reef since January. Philippine aircraft searching for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in March also spotted the reclamation, officials said.

Photos claiming to show reclamation around the reef have been circulated in the Chinese online community. The state-run Global Times, quoting an unnamed source, reported that China was merely renovating facilities on the reef.

Del Rosario said the Philippines raised the reclamation issue along with the deployment of Chinese coastguard ships at Second Thomas Shoal during a summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations over the weekend in Myanmar.

The protest marks the latest row between China and the Philippines in the South China Sea, after Manila decided to prosecute nine Chinese fishermen apprehended in the disputed Spratly Islands last week for poaching sea turtles. Two other crew members, both minors, were flown to Guangzhou on Tuesday.

A commentary by Xinhua said the prosecution of the fishermen was a provocation - no matter whether the allegation of poaching sea turtles was true or not - because China had indisputable sovereignty over the islands.

"All parties should also be reminded that ignorance of China's resolve to defend its sovereign land will induce consequences too severe for certain countries to bear," it said.

China and Vietnam have recently been engaged in a separate stand-off after Beijing deployed a mobile oil rig to the Paracel Islands, which China calls the Xisha Islands, and Vietnam calls the Hoang Sa Islands.

US Secretary of State John Kerry described China's move as "provocative" in a telephone conversation with his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi , on Tuesday, US State Department spokesman Jen Psaki said.

But Hua denied Kerry had accused Beijing of being provocative, Xinhua reported.

Agence France-Presse, Associated Press

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This article is now closed to comments

53746aa5-b97c-4aa3-83d9-52b80a3209cb
How can Philippines get those satelites pics?
From the US, right?
Why can't China build airstrip there? Only American can?
US is too weak nowadays to deal with the growing China. Needs Japan, Philippines or Vietnam to help. So sorry for that.
Face the reality
537436d5-7854-4183-9f63-08e20a3209ca
China is using HD 981 to place in vietnam seas. this action is very seious and affects to the relationship between Asean countries . over 90 million vietnamese people are demonstrating to demand china to back off . there are a lot of articles on china invasion. click at Baomoi.com.vn or vnexpress.com.vn for more information .
53746aa5-b97c-4aa3-83d9-52b80a3209cb
Do not use invasion. US has invaded a lot of countries already.
537436d5-7854-4183-9f63-08e20a3209ca
China is using HD 981 to place in vietnam seas. this action is very seious and affects to the relationship between Asean countries . over 90 million vietnamese people are demonstrating to demand china to back off . there are a lot of articles on china invasion. click at Baomoi.com.vn or vnexpress.com.vn for more information .
537436d5-7854-4183-9f63-08e20a3209ca
China is using HD 981 to place in vietnam seas. this action is very seious and affects to the relationship between Asean countries . over 90 million vietnam are demonstrating to demand china to back off . there are a lot of articles on china invasion. click at Baomoi.com.vn or vnexpress.com.vn for more information .
How About
Today SCMP Editorial Board gave an excellent piece on the mutual gains from cooperation - i.e. the Prisoner's Dilemma aka Peace-War Game, and it is a cornerstone to peaceful resolutions to any dispute that can potentially turn into war.
M Miyagi
The Philippines always make all kinds of statements about China but is the one caught red-handed doing exactly what it accuses others of doing. A few more typhoon haiyan and the Philippines will become a little bit cleaner.
nicolas
then, the Philippines should start building it's own airstrip on mischief reef and start stationing marine in that area as well..let's sees what action china will do next...don't let an evil and greedy aggressor control the disputed islands...it time to take action and sees what the US will do next after the treaty being signed last month...
scaglietti07
War mongers. Meddling by the super power far removed from the scene will only cause suffering in the region. Historical lessons are to be respected.
53746aa5-b97c-4aa3-83d9-52b80a3209cb
Go to war then. See how many US soldiers will die this time.

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