Lorenzana: West Philippine Sea was peaceful until Chinese incursion
MANILA, Philippines – The situation in the West Philippine Sea would have been tension – free if China did not launch aggressive actions in the disputed waters, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Wednesday.
Lorenzana was recounting the Shangri-La Dialogue in June where he raised doubts on China’s pronouncements that it does not bully other countries with overlapping claims in the area and that it follows international law.
Asked on the reaction of representatives from other countries, the defense chief said they were delighted that someone spoke up against the statements of China.
“Natuwa sila dahil merong nagsalita. Medyo binabatikos din yung galaw ng China dyan sa West Philippine Sea. Dahil kung hindi sila nag-umpisa dyan ng ginagawa, aba tahimik tayo dito. Tahimik tayo kung hindi sila masyadong naging agresibo dyan sa West Philippine Sea, sa South China Sea. Wala sanang gulo (They were happy that someone spoke up. The actions of China in the West Philippine Sea are also being criticized. Because if they did not started building artificial islands, it would have been more calm. There should have been peace if they did not become too aggressive in the West Philippine Sea, in the South China Sea. There will be no conflict),” Lorenzana said in an interview with DZBB.
Lorenzana also raised doubts that China is only building defense fortresses.
“Bakit sila naglalagay dyan ng military equipment? Defensive ba yun? Siguro naniniwala akong defensive. Pero yung defensive na yun napakadaling i-transform into offensive capability (Why did they install military equipment there? Is that defensive? Maybe I believe that. But it can also be transformed into having offensive capability),” he pointed out.
Lorenzana, however, said he welcomes the statement of Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jinhua, who the other day said that China will not take the first shot amid the maritime dispute with the Philippines and other countries.
“Siguro, gusto kong, yeah, ipagpalagay nating naniniwala ako siguro dahil ayaw naman nilang magkagulo dyan sa West Philippine Sea or South China Sea,” he said, adding that Zhao told him that a large percentage of products China exports go through these waters (Maybe I want to believe that they also don’t want conflict in the West Philippine Sea or South China Sea).”
Earlier, Lorenzana also called out China for bullying the Philippines when it took over Scarborough Shoal in 2012. /gsg
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