Aquino: China violating nonaggression pact
MANILA, Philippines—By building an airstrip on Mabini Reef (Johnson South Reef) in the West Philippine Sea, China is violating a nonaggression pact it signed with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) in 2002, President Aquino said on Monday.
Aquino, however, acknowledged that the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea is not enforceable, making necessary a code of conduct.
“What was done on Mischief Reef in the past, what’s being done now, all these are seemingly in violation of the agreed Declaration of Conduct,” he told reporters after speaking at a conference on tourism and climate change in Legazpi City, Albay province. He was referring to China’s grabbing Mischief Reef—known in the Philippines as Panganiban Reef—in the West Philippine Sea in 1995 and building a military outpost there as the Philippines watched helplessly.
With Mabini, the problem is that the Declaration of Conduct is not binding, Aquino admitted, referring to observations that the agreement has failed to stop clashes between rival claimants to territory in the South China Sea.
Vietnam and China are now locked in a standoff in the East Sea—the part of the South China Sea within Hanoi’s 370-kilometer exclusive economic zone—over China’s moving a deepwater oil drilling rig there, with dozens of ships from both sides ramming each other in recent days.
“That’s why in 2012 in Cambodia we renewed the call for the early conclusion of this code of conduct to stop this dispute and a potential flash point of conflict,” Aquino said.
Manila in early April protested Beijing’s reclamation of land on Mabini Reef, believed to be preparation for the construction of an airstrip or an offshore military base. Beijing rejected the protest outright on grounds that the reef was part of its territory.
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