PH to rely on ‘Triple-Action Plan’ vs China’s lighthouse plan
MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Friday said that it will focus on the Triple-Action Plan (TAP) amid China’s reported plan to build lighthouses on five islands in the disputed South China Sea.
The TAP seeks to ease “exacerbating tensions” in the South China Sea through a freeze on all activities including construction and reclamation, the implementation of the Association of Southeast Asian Nation’s (Asean) Declaration of Conduct and creation of the Code of Conduct, and for the settlement of disputes through international law.
DFA spokesman Charles Jose told reporters in a press briefing that TAP will be able to address the reported plan of China to build lighthouses.
“We will focus on TAP,” Jose said in response questions about China’s plan.
The TAP will be brought before the foreign ministers of Asean member countries including U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi when they meet in Myanmar for the Asean Ministerial Meeting.
“One good thing that we know is that our concerns are being shared by other Asean member countries,” Jose said.
“They also recognize the exacerbating tension in the region and that we should take all measures that would deescalate and manage the tensions to create the atmosphere that would lead to an eventual resolution of the dispute,” he said.
Chinese authorities were quoted in a report by state-run China News Service as saying that they surveyed North Reef, Antelope Reef, Drummond Island, South Sand and Pyramid Rock.
Drummond Island and Pyramid Rock are located in the Paracel Islands which is claimed by both China and Vietnam but not the Philippines. The two countries previously had brief encounters when China brought an oil drilling rig near the Paracels escorted by ships.
One of the Chinese authorities reportedly cited the lack of navigational aids and charts as reason for the need to build lighthouses.
“We hope Asean, if we all agree, will be able to convince China to agree to the cessation of activities that escalate tensions,” Jose said.
China claims nearly the entire South China Sea as part of its territory through its nine-dash line claim. The Philippines has challenged China’s claim before the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea (Itlos) because it overlaps with the country’s 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone.
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