MANILA -- The Philippines should drop its infrastructure deals with Chinese companies that the US recently blacklisted for building artificial islands in contested waters, a senator said Monday.
The 24 firms that Washington banned last week from purchasing US goods include China Communications Construction Co. (CCCC) which has 5 memoranda of agreement with the Philippine government, Sen. Risa Hontiveros said.
These deals cover the Davao coastline and port development project, Manila harbor reclamation, Cebu International and Bulk Terminal Project as well as railway projects in Clark, said Hontiveros, citing data from the US Commerce Department.
CCCC is also ironing out a joint venture to build an airport in Cavite, Governor Jonvic Remulla said last week.
Another blacklisted firm is the China Harbor Engineering Co., which won a bid to build an access road to New Clark City, said Hontiveros.
"Kapag ipinagpatuloy natin ito, para na rin nating isinuko ang ating teritoryo, hindi na natin ipinaglaban," she told ABS-CBN News' TeleRadyo.
(If we continue these, it's akin to giving up our territory and no longer fighting for it.)
"Para iyang ikaw na ang nilooban, ninakawan, tapos sa kanila mo ipagkakatiwalang ipagawa iyong bahay mo. Malaking kalokohan," she added.
(It's like being robbed and asking the thief to fix your house. It is a big folly.)
The Chinese government has been rapidly building artificial islands in the disputed waters since 2013, dredging and constructing more than 3,000 acres of new land, including air defense and anti-ship missile features, the US Commerce Department earlier said.
The island-building undermines the sovereignty of other countries in the region and comes despite the condemnation of the United States and other countries, according to the US agency's announcement.
The United States does not have maritime claims in the South China Sea, but it wants to ensure Beijing does not trample on the “sovereign rights” of Southeast Asian nations.
Senior State Department officials also accused China and its state-owned companies of “bullying and coercion” in the region, which plays host to lucrative and vital shipping lanes.
The Trump administration has penalized dozens of Chinese companies in previous months by adding them to the so-called entity list over national security concerns related to advanced technology and alleged human rights violations against Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region.
However, this is the first time that the administration has used the entity list in relation to China’s encroachment in the South China Sea, which stretches south of Hong Kong and borders the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and other countries.
-- With a report from The New York Times