China Firmly Opposes Philippine Construction Activities in Contested Waters

Chinese ships using water cannons against Philippine boats in late 2023 and the 2012 seizure of Scarborough Reef are notable incidents in the ongoing maritime dispute.
  • Defensemirror.com bureau
  • 08:27 AM, January 26, 2024
  • 481
China Firmly Opposes Philippine Construction Activities in Contested Waters
Established in 2012, Sansha City administers the Xisha, Zhongsha, and Nansha islands and their surrounding waters in the South China Sea.

China has firmly opposed any construction activities by the Philippines on islands and reefs in the South China Sea that China claims as its own.

A Chinese defense spokesperson, Senior Colonel Wu Qian, made the statement during a regular press conference on Thursday. He claimed China's indisputable sovereignty over Nansha Qundao and its adjacent waters, backed by historical and jurisprudential basis.

The Chinese response came after the Chief of Staff of the Philippine Armed Forces announced the Philippines' plans to develop South China Sea islands and reefs, acquiring additional ships and radars. Analysts speculate that the Philippines aims to build outposts in the contested region.

Qian accused the Philippines of colluding with outside powers, breaking promises, and continually violating China's sovereignty in the South China Sea. He urged the Philippines to respect history, recognize the reality, and avoid further provocative actions.

"China resolutely opposes the Philippine side conducting any form of construction on China's islands and reefs illegally occupied by them… These efforts have undermined China's legitimate and lawful rights and interests. We urge the Philippine side to respect history, recognize the reality, and do not go further down the wrong path," said Defense Spokesperson Wu.

China expressed its willingness to resolve differences through bilateral dialogues and consultation but warned of firm countermeasures if the Philippines persisted in its course.

China's response follows Philippine Defense Minister Gilberto Teodoro's announcement of deploying armed forces to safeguard peaceful exploration in the West Philippine Sea's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Romeo Brawner, Manila's military chief, disclosed plans to develop contested islands and reefs in the South China Sea, escalating tensions. The focus on territorial defense includes acquiring additional ships, radars, and aircraft.

Teodoro stressed the deployment's constitutional basis and obligations for resource protection. While the Philippines has long planned to drill for oil and gas on Reed Bank, no specific timeline was provided. Teodoro prioritizes peace, insisting on adherence to international law and sustainability.

Amid longstanding tensions with China, the International Court of Arbitration's 2016 invalidation of China's dotted line claim adds complexity to the maritime dispute.

Recent incidents, like Chinese ships using water cannons against Philippine boats and the 2012 seizure of Scarborough Reef, have heightened tensions.

A recent meeting between Philippine and Chinese representatives led to an agreement on enhancing maritime communication to manage differences in the contested waters, crucial for international trade routes.

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