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DFA: Vietnam reclamation being checked

MANILA, Philippines–The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is still verifying reports that Vietnam, one of the Philippines’ coclaimants in the South China Sea, has carried out significant land reclamation projects at two sites in the disputed waters.

“We have yet to receive an official report on Vietnam’s land reclamation. We will get confirmation from the agencies concerned,” Charles Jose, DFA spokesman and assistant secretary, said in a news briefing on Monday.

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According to a Reuters report, newly released satellite images taken by Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a US research unit, showed an expansion of land area on Vietnam-controlled Sand Cay and West London Reef in the Spratly archipelago.

The work, which included military installations, appeared to have started even before China began its reclamation, according to CSIS.

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China recently called out rival claimants in the South China Sea to stop their reclamation activities, which the Philippines also did against the land reclamation conducted by China on 300 hectares of coral reefs system in the disputed waters.

In verifying the report, Jose said the DFA was relying on government agencies which have the capability to monitor the situation in the South China Sea.

Over the weekend, Jose dismissed the allegations of China against the Philippines as a “distraction” from the core issues of its sweeping claims in the South China Sea and its unilateral and aggressive actions in the region.

Vietnam is supportive of the Philippines’ legal challenge to China’s nine-dash-line claim through an arbitration case filed in the United Nations arbitral tribunal.

Vietnam last year issued a statement to the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, the Netherlands, rejecting China’s claims over Hoang Sa, the Truong Sa islands and adjacent waters.

It also agreed that the court had jurisdiction over the Philippines’ arbitration case, a matter that China has opposed.

Meanwhile, more than 20 environmental activists rallied outside the Chinese consulate on Gil Puyat Avenue in Makati Monday morning demanding an immediate stop to the massive ecological destruction being caused by the Chinese reclamation in the West Philippine Sea, the country’s portion of the South China Sea.–With a report from Ariana Michaela Lopez

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TAGS: Department of Foreign Affairs, DFA, Diplomacy, Philippines, reclamation, sea row, territorial dispute, Vietnam
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