China reclamation projects a blatant disregard of DOC – Phl

By Alexis Romero, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jun 07 2014 09:23 AM | Updated as of Jun 07 2014 05:23 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The government believes China’s reclamation in two reefs in the Spratlys could worsen the already fragile balance of peace and stability in the region.

In a text message, Department of National Defense (DND) spokesman Peter Galvez said yesterday the reclamation in Calderon (Cuarteron) and Gaven reefs goes against the Declaration on the Code of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC).

“It‘s a serious concern and a blatant disregard of the DOC,” he said. “This will cause further deterioration of the fragile balance of peace and stability in the region.”

Galvez said agreements calling for the peaceful resolution of concerns and international law must be strictly observed.

A code of conduct among claimants in the West Philippine Sea is urgently needed, he added.

The movements in Calderon Reef were monitored in March, while those in Gaven Reef were detected sometime in May, Galvez said.

A security official, who asked not to be named as he is barred from discussing the matter with media, said China is building a “maritime wall” around the Spratlys.

“It is aimed at constricting air and naval activities of other claimant countries in the future,” the security official said.

China is apparently conducting reclamation projects in Gaven and Cuarteron reefs as President Aquino announced this week.

It has already transformed Subi Reef into a heavily fortified forward naval outpost.

Using the reef is a huge Chinese naval transport ship carrying a battalion of marines and tanks on board.

It is very close to Pag-Asa island, where Kalayaan town is located.

South of Subi Reef is Gaven Reef, where an artificial island has been created and turned into a Chinese naval base.

It can effectively check on the activities of Taiwanese forces based at the nearby Itu Aba, the biggest island in the region, as well as that of Vietnamese forces stationed in nearby islets and reefs.

Reports said China is also fortifying and transforming into an unsinkable aircraft carrier Fiery Cross Reef.

It is located between Mabini and Cuarteron reefs, where China reclamation activities were also monitored.

Kalayaan Mayor Eugenio Bito-onon Jr. said the security development around his town now merits serious concern, not only among the Spratlys-claimant states but worldwide. – With Jaime Laude