China’s reclamation to have repercussions – AFP
MANILA, Philippines – Military officials are concerned that the latest developments in China’s ongoing reclamation in the West Philippine Sea (or South China sea) will have adverse economic and military effects not just in the region.
This is so as the Armed Forces of the Philippines is set to make public on Monday (Apr. 20) the most recent images of the reclamation projects in the disputed territory.
Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc, AFP public affairs office chief, said AFP Chief of Staff Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. himself will present the latest photos of China’s projects in the area.
“The chief of staff wants to show the latest images of the Chinese reclamation in the West Philippine Sea. He is concerned about the aggressiveness of China because it has adverse effects economically and militarily,” Cabunoc said on Sunday.
It may be recalled that China mainly ignored the Group of Seven’s expression of concern over the ongoing reclamation, even defending it as needed to improve living conditions for people in the area.
A concrete runway suitable for military use, built by China, was the cause of concern worldwide.
The AFP is set to make public the most recent photos of the reclamation projects on Monday. The photographs will show the progressing reclamation in the disputed area.
Cabunoc cited the tension and the effect of the reclamation on international sealanes in the area, which would affect world trade.
The military’s purpose in making public the new photos is to stress that the reclamation activities have “significant impact to all.”
“We want to tell the whole world, not only the Filipino people but the whole world that these issues, particularly the tensions caused by China’s massive reclamation activities have significant impact to all,” Cabunoc said.
Peter Galvez, spokesman of the Department of National Defense, pointed out that the expression of concern by peace-loving nations should not be ignored.
“We hope they wake up to the truth before irreparable miscalculations and untoward incidents occur that would adversely affect not only our region but the community of peace-loving nations,” the defense official said.
He said the actions of the Chinese leadership could affect the peaceful Chinese people.
“The adverse effect of their leadership’s decisions will cause them regretful setbacks if they do not deviate from their present actions. This is what we have learned from history lest they repeat it and relearn the hard way,” Galvez said.
Cabunoc added that the military has become concerned that the reclamation would leave massive and irreversible destruction to the country’s natural resources.
“How many years will it take for coral reefs to grow? They should take responsibility and answer for this massive destruction and its effects on marine life,” he said.
He also stressed the need for concrete actions to stop the reclamation and to emphasize to the world that these were not just concerns for the Philippines but the concern of everyone using the sea lanes in the disputed area.
“We don’t really know their next steps once they’ve taken these islets, reefs. We don’t know if they will block the international shipping lanes,” he said.
The military official maintained the Philippines’ support for a rules-based, principled and peaceful approach in settling the territorial dispute.
Cabunoc said the Philippine government has been working to increase awareness of the issue, adding that they would not want it to become a military confrontation. SFM/AC
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