News / Asia

    Philippines Skeptical of China’s Reclamation Work in Contested Sea

    FILE - In this photo taken by surveillance planes and released May 15, 2014 by the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs, a Chinese vessel, top center, is used to expand structures and land on the Johnson Reef at the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, Philippines. FILE - In this photo taken by surveillance planes and released May 15, 2014 by the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs, a Chinese vessel, top center, is used to expand structures and land on the Johnson Reef at the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, Philippines.
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    FILE - In this photo taken by surveillance planes and released May 15, 2014 by the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs, a Chinese vessel, top center, is used to expand structures and land on the Johnson Reef at the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, Philippines.
    FILE - In this photo taken by surveillance planes and released May 15, 2014 by the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs, a Chinese vessel, top center, is used to expand structures and land on the Johnson Reef at the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, Philippines.
    Simone Orendain

    The Philippines is expressing “serious concern” over newly released satellite images that show major progress in China’s reclamation work at contested outcroppings in the South China Sea.
     
    The latest images published by IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly show “a large facility” in the works at Johnson South Reef. In May 2014, the Philippine military reported a Chinese construction ship was moving sand and rocks to augment the reef.
     

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    The latest images also show, from the start of construction at Gaven Reefs last March through this January, what appears to be a helipad and anti-aircraft tower. The report says the work at Gaven has “almost identical footprints” to the reclamation activities at nearby Hughes Reef, which is claimed by Vietnam.
     
    Philippine Foreign Affairs Spokesman Charles Jose says the country is “seriously concerned” about China’s reclamation work.
     
    “And we have noted that China’s construction [on] these features is plainly intended to change the character, the status and maritime entitlements of these features," he explained. "And we have strongly urged China to desist from the reclamation work that they’re doing.”
     
    Manila has filed multiple protests with Beijing over China’s reclamation work at several outcroppings the Philippines claims among the Spratly Islands. Jose said China’s response to the last submitted Johnson South Reef protest was that it has indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea’s islands.
     
    This has been China’s position regarding any of its actions on or around the disputed rocks and banks. Furthermore, China’s Foreign Ministry has said the country has the right to engage in construction activities at its occupied islands. China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan all have claims in the heavily traveled, resource-rich sea.
     
    In the Spratlys, Vietnam and Taiwan have developed some smaller naturally formed islands with heavily fortified military infrastructure. Malaysia built a dive resort around a landing strip at one of its occupied outcroppings and the Philippines has pushed for civilian inhabitants on its largest island claims.
     
    But Jane’s Defense Asia-Pacific editor James Hardy says China, which previously had not occupied any actual island there, is turning reefs into artificial islands. He says the features China is developing into islands “form a chain” across the Spratlys.
     
    “But they’re still very capable and they’re going to be fortified and they’re going to basically give them a position to assert their sovereignty claims to the other bits of the Spratly Islands," he said. "That’s the issue. It’s all about coercion, really. I think that’s what we think is going to happen. They don’t necessarily have to start a war. They just have to make it very difficult for anyone else to be there.”
     
    Photos from Jane’s and Philippine and Chinese government sources show China is so far creating artificial islands at Cuateron, Fiery Cross, Gaven, Hughes and Johnson South Reefs. Vietnam claims all of them, while the Philippines claims all but Hughes.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Mark from: los angeles
    February 19, 2015 8:40 PM
    What we sow, we shall reap! If China is sowing evil seeds then we will start to see evil fruits sprouting. Is it true that the suicide rate in China is now a shocking 30%, I have read that this is the same rate with the U.S. military; to me this is very frightening much more frightening than the Philippines or China going to war with China and much more lethal.
    Will we soon be convinced that God will not be made a mockery?.
    In Response

    by: Tom Murphy from: Heartland America
    March 18, 2015 4:35 PM
    Mark,
    Your statement about the suicide rate in the US military is off by a tad. The actual rate is 30 per 100,000, which makes it 1000 times less than what you stated. If this is not lying on your part, I don't know what is. In percentage terms thats 0.03 percent, not 30 percent. And the suicide rate among China's military is 1000 times greater than the rate in the US military. Furthermore, of the total US suicides 69% were among men aged 49 or older and probably not men actively serving at the current time, but retired veterans who may become depressed after leaving the military.

    by: willim li from: canada
    February 18, 2015 3:49 PM
    Defeating your enemies without shedding one drop of blood, this is the ancient Chinese wisdom.
    We urge EU and USA to learn more from China in terms of dealing world conflicts, such as crisis in Ukraine, Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria.
    Bombing and killing innocent villagers in Afghanistan and Syria is so wrong!

    by: Arlene from: USA
    February 18, 2015 3:37 PM
    Over 1,000 miles from mainland, they can build but can they defend them once the Philippines and Vietnam (within missiles range) decide enough is enough?

    by: Justice from: world
    February 18, 2015 1:39 PM
    lets ask United nation historian who have right to the spratly

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