PH protest won’t affect ties with China–DFA | Global News

PH protest won’t affect ties with China–DFA

MANILA, Philippines—The new land reclamation work being done by China in the disputed South China Sea, this time on Kagitingan Reef which the government protested last month, is not about to shake the renewed improved relations between the Philippines and China.

Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) spokesperson and Assistant Secretary Charles Jose made it clear yesterday that the Philippine protest against the Chinese reclamation work at Kagitingan Reef, or Fiery Cross Reef, was filed on Oct. 10 or before President Benigno Aquino III and Chinese President Xi Jinping met at the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit in Beijing where they agreed to improve the two nations’ once icy relations.

Isolated, separate issue


“It’s always been our position that we’d like to isolate and extract the South China Sea issue and deal with it separately while we promote and strengthen other areas of cooperation with China, particularly on trade and investment, and tourism and cultural exchanges,” Jose told a press briefing.


The DFA spokesperson was referring to the Nov. 12 meeting between President Aquino and Xi where both leaders expressed the need to focus the relations of the two countries on other areas of cooperation rather than on their dispute in the South China Sea.

Relations between the two countries soured after Manila filed a case against China before the UN tribunal to protest China’s nine-dash line claim over almost the entire South China Sea, including areas which are part of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

The Philippines also protested the continued reclamation work being done by China which it said was raising tension in the disputed sea.

At the briefing, Jose said that until now, China had not responded to the Philippine protest on the reclamation work at Kagitingan Reef, which he made clear was part of the Kalayaan Group of Islands, or Spratlys, that the country was claiming in the South China Sea.

But he said it was the right of China to respond or not.

Jose said aside from Kagitingan, China was also reclaiming in other Philippine claimed areas—Johnson Reef, McKennan (Hughes) Reef, Gaven Reef and Cuarteron Reef.


Asked how many protests the government had filed against Beijing for the reclamation work, he said they did not keep count of it.

Asked why the DFA did not announce the latest reclamation work being done by China, he said what was important was that the Philippines had filed a protest against it.

“We were not silent because in diplomacy sometimes, being quiet means you acquiesce. So it’s important we put on record we are protesting the activity that China is doing here,” he said.

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Jose also said that incidents like these made a code of conduct in the South China Sea, where there are overlapping claims by many countries, “all the more pressing and urgent.”

TAGS: Apec Summit, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, Charles Jose, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Department of Foreign Affairs, DFA, Fiery Cross Reef, Kagitingan Reef, President Benigno Aquino III, South China Sea

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