DFA to verify reports China building airstrip, naval base on disputed reef
MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is verifying reports that the Chinese military has built an artificial island that could accommodate an airstrip and a naval base in disputed waters.
According to media reports, China has reclaimed land at Kagitingan Reef, also known as the Fiery Cross Reef, which lies west of Spratly Islands in the West Philippine Sea.
“We have to validate that,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario told reporters on Monday.
Kagitingan Reef is 257 nautical miles from the nearest point of Palawan and is part of the Kalayaan Group of Islands.
Last week, a report from IHS Jane’s Defence revealed that the artificial island is 3,000 meters long and 200-300 meters wide. Also, a harbor which can hold tankers and warships was also dug out in the said island.
Meanwhile, DFA spokesperson Assistant Secretary Charles Jose said that it is seeking the help of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to counter China’s actions.
“In response to those actions, the Philippines is working very closely with Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) for the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in South China Sea (DOC) and for the early conclusion of the Code of Conduct (COC) that will be our response to our activities like that in the South China Sea,” Jose said.
DFA is also set to verify the veracity of the reports with various intelligence agencies.
Last April, the DFA has lodged a protest before the Asean over China’s reclamation activities on Mabini Reef.
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