China frowns at Philippine school on Pag-asa

by Jojo Malig,

Posted at Jun 25 2012 11:51 PM | Updated as of Jun 26 2012 04:06 PM

MANILA, Philippines - A kindergarten school built by the Philippines on Pag-asa Island will only aggravate the situation in the Spratlys, a Chinese Foreign Ministry official claimed on Monday.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei, in a press briefing, said the Philippines should "refrain from taking any measures that will complicate and exacerbate the current situation and affect peace and stability in the South China Sea."

He insisted that Beijing has "indisputable sovereignty" over Spratly Islands and its waters, according to state news agency Xinhua.

"China opposes any illegal activity that may infringe on China's sovereignty," Hong said.

Pag-asa, the biggest of the 7 Kalayaan islands that are under the province of Palawan, is home to around 200 Filipinos.

A small kindergarten school was inaugurated on the 37-hectare island on June 15, Kalayaan town Mayor Eugenio Bito-onon said Sunday.

The school will help Pag-asa's civilian community, Bito-onon added.

China, however, thinks otherwise.

"We hope relevant countries will abide by the spirit of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea," Hong said.

Pag-asa has been under the Philippines' full control  since the 1970s.

Philippine troops protect the island, which has an airstrip and a naval station.

Aside from the new kindergarten school, Pag-asa now also has a town hall, multi-purpose hall, health center, school, a water-filtration plant, a marina, a communications tower, a power generator, and solar power panels that provide electricity.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, meanwhile,  did not directly answer if Chinese ships have left Scarborough shoal.

He also did not mention the ramming of a Philippine fishing boat by an alleged Hong Kong-registered bulk vessel that killed a Filipino fisherman and left 4 others missing.

According to Xinhua, Hong said tensions around the island are easing, and Chinese government ships maintain jurisdiction and vigilance over the areas around the shoal.

The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Monday said no Chinese or Filipino ships have remained inside the shoal.