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PH to protest vs China if militarization proved on Kagitingan Reef

/ 08:15 PM January 08, 2018
Fiery Cross Reef

This combination photo of satellite images taken on Feb. 6, 2015 (top) and March 23, 2015 (bottom) by Airbus Defence and Space, and distributed by IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, shows what IHS Jane’s describes as an airstrip on Fiery Cross Reef (Kagitingan Reef) in a disputed section of the South China Sea. The US has warned that China’s development on the artificially created island could raise tensions in the area. (Photos from CNES, Airbus Defence and Space / IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly via AP)

FORT MAGSAYSAY, Nueva Ecija — The Philippine government will file a diplomatic protest against China if it can be established that there is indeed militarization over the Fiery Cross Reef (Kagitingan Reef) in the South China Sea.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Monday said that the Chinese government had previously promised not to militarize their man-made islands.

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“Our stand here is that we will register our protest through the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) because I know for a fact that the Chinese government said sometime ago that they are not going to militarize those reclaimed islands,” the defense chief told reporters in a press briefing on the sidelines of the change of command of the Army’s Special Operations Command.

The defense secretary was asked about his stance on the latest aerial shots of Fiery Cross Reef released by state-run Chinese television, which is now a 2.8-square-kilometer airbase.

Reports said that the long runway can fit H-6K strategic bombers to land. There is also a hospital and military facilities.

According to Lorenzana, China claims that it has not militarized the Fiery Cross Reef and that the facilities there are for civilian use.

“But if it is true that we can prove that they have been putting soldiers in there and even any weapons that would heighten their defensives there, that will be a violation of what they said,” Lorenzana added.

The Fiery Cross Reef, one of the seven fortified islands of China, is said to be the third largest island in the South China Sea. /atm

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TAGS: Delfin Lorenzana, Fiery Cross Reef, Kagitingan Reef, Maritime Dispute, South China Sea, West Philippine Sea
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