News / Asia

Philippines Accuses China of Developing Land on Disputed Reef

Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs Spokesman Charles Jose delivers a statement about the Philippine protest against China's reclamation of land in a disputed reef in the South China Sea as he faces the media at the Philippine Foreign Affairs  headquarters in suburban Pasay, south of Manila, Philippines, May 14, 2014.
Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs Spokesman Charles Jose delivers a statement about the Philippine protest against China's reclamation of land in a disputed reef in the South China Sea as he faces the media at the Philippine Foreign Affairs headquarters in suburban Pasay, south of Manila, Philippines, May 14, 2014.
Simone Orendain
The Philippines says China is developing land on a disputed reef in the hotly contested Spratly Islands of the South China Sea.
 
A spokesman for the Department of National Defense confirmed that early this year, military surveillance found China involved in “earth-moving activities in the area” of Johnson South Reef.  The reef, called Chigua by China and Mabini by the Philippines, is more than 300 kilometers west of Palawan province in the Philippines.
 
The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs said it lodged a protest with China early last month over its “reclamation” of Johnson South Reef.  In a statement the ministry said China rejected the protest and President Benigno Aquino raised the issue at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit in Burma over the weekend.
 
Following the summit, officials this week released news of the building activities.
 
During a regular news briefing Wednesday Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda emphasized that China is a signatory to a non-binding declaration on keeping peace in the disputed waters of the South China Sea.
 
“I would like to believe that China would like to be a member of the international community in good standing.  However, it appears they are doing things, which we find objectionable,” he said.
 
A Foreign Affairs official earlier told Reuters news agency that China was preparing to build an airstrip at Johnson South.  However, National Defense Spokesman Peter Paul Galvez said the military cannot confirm what is being built.  He said sand and rocks were being moved from the surrounding area to augment the reef.
 
China’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Wednesday she could not confirm what construction, if any, was being done there. “I can tell you the reef is Chinese territory and Chinese construction on Chinese territory is completely within China’s jurisdiction,” she said.
 
Officials say the Chinese activities at the reef go against the spirit of the South China Sea “code of conduct.”
 
But Manila-based security analyst Rommel Banlaoi said China has been controlling the reef for years, and even has an old structure that is still there.  “Now if claimants raise issue about that activity, then China can have an alibi that they are just improving their existing facilities,” Banlaoi stated.
 
Banlaoi points out that other claimants to the reefs in the region could do the same in the parts they control.  
 
Banlaoi also says that just one of the Spratly outcroppings can handle an airstrip and that is at Swallow Reef, which is controlled by Malaysia.  He said if China were to erect an airstrip at Johnson South, it would have to do what Malaysia did, which was put up foundations on the strongest parts of the reef.  This would destroy the ecological balance of Johnson South and possibly violate some international environmental laws.
 
The Philippines has claims in the South China Sea including many of the Spratly islands.  China says it has indisputable sovereignty over nearly the entire sea.  Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims in the sea, which is believed to have major oil and gas reserves, is rich with marine life and has heavily travelled shipping lanes.

You May Like

Australia Knights Prince Philip, Sparking National Outrage

Abbott's surprise reintroduction of knights and dames in the country's honors system last year drew criticism that he was out of touch with national sentiment More

SAG Award Boosts 'Birdman' Oscar Hopes

Individual acting Oscars appear to be sewn up: SAG awards went to artists who won Golden Globes: Julianne Moore, Eddie Redmayne, Patricia Arquette, J.K. Simmons More

Katy Perry Lights Way for Super Bowl's Girl Power Moment

Pop star's selection to headline US football championship's halftime show extends NFL's trend of selecting artists who appeal to younger viewers More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sidesi
X
June Soh
January 23, 2015 10:03 PM
The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid