US failed to penalize China on violations in South China Sea: ex-envoy

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 19 2017 03:23 PM

This photo taken on June 7, 2014 shows fishing boats anchored at Ulugan Bay, near the mouth of the South China Sea, off Puerto Princesa on Palawan island. TED ALJIBE, AFP PHOTO

MANILA- Despite strong statements made by the United States against China over violations in its conduct in the South China Sea, Beijing was never chastised for its actions, a former envoy said Wednesday.

Jose Cuisia, Manila’s former ambassador to the US, said he was somehow disappointed to see that Washington did not stop China on its reclamation and militarization efforts in the disputed waters.

“To some extent I was a bit disappointed as I see that in the case of the South China Sea issue there were statements made by the US government regarding the 3 halts—no reclamation, no construction, and no militarization. And yet China went ahead with all 3 aspects,” he said on ANC’s “Headstart.”

“I know that there were many strong statements made by the US Senate regarding the violation of those 3 halts by China but yet as I said, there was no price paid by China,” he added.

Washington has criticized Beijing’s build-up of military facilities on the artificial islands and is concerned they could be used to restrict free movement through the South China Sea, an important trade route.

Since assuming office, President Rodrigo Duterte has steered the Philippines’ foreign policy away from its usual ally Washington and instead sought closer ties towards Beijing.

Cuisia said Duterte was right in criticizing Washington’s lack of action over China’s militarization efforts in the South China Sea.

“So I think in that respect, he (Duterte) was right in saying what the US had not done anything about it,” Cuisia said.

“You see today they (China) still control those 3 reefs [in the South China Sea] despite of the fact that the arbitral ruling came out in favor of the Philippines,” he added.

Despite the arbitral ruling favoring the Philippines, the Duterte administration has maintained a non-combative stance in resolving the maritime dispute with Beijing, which has pledged billions of investments to Manila.