Palace relies on China's 'good faith' amid S. China Sea expansion activities

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 25 2017 02:50 PM

Fiery Cross saw the most construction over the course of 2017, with work on buildings covering 27 acres, or about 110,000 square meters. Image by CSIS Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative/DigitalGlobe

MANILA - Malacañang on Monday said the Philippine government continues to rely on China’s “good faith” after Beijing confirmed its expansion activities in the disputed South China Sea.

A new Chinese government report confirmed that Beijing has “reasonably" expanded its islands in the disputed South China Sea and this year construction projects there including radar facilities covered about 290,000 square meters (72 acres).

The number was broadly similar to one provided by a U.S. think tank earlier this month.

Asked to comment on the latest development in the South China Sea dispute, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said, “We don’t know where these works are. We continue to rely on China’s good faith. Location is material since we do not have claims on all the islands and waters in the disputed area.”

China has conducted extensive land reclamation work on some of the islands and reefs it controls in the South China Sea, including building airports, alarming its neighbors and Washington.

Beijing says the work is to help provide international services such as search-and-rescue but admits there is a military purpose too. China also says it can do whatever it wants on its territory.

The new report, posted on a website run by China's National Marine Data and Information Service and the overseas edition of the ruling Communist Party's People's Daily, says China has enhanced its military presence there and "reasonably" expanded the area covered by the islands.

While attention in Asia has been distracted by the North Korean nuclear crisis in the past year, China has continued to install high-frequency radar and other facilities that can be used for military purposes on its man-made islands in the South China Sea, a U.S. think tank said this month.

That report, by the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative of Washington's Center for Strategic and International Studies, said Chinese activity has involved work on facilities covering 72 acres (29 hectares) of the Spratly and Paracel islands, territory contested with several Asian neighbors.

More than $5 trillion of world trade is shipped through the South China Sea every year. Besides China's territorial claims in the area, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines and Taiwan have rival claims. - with Reuters