The Philippines on Sunday accused China of a “massive military buildup” in the disputed West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), warning a Southeast Asian security forum that Beijing’s tactics were a threat to peace in the region.
Speaking at the 46th Asean ministerial meeting in Brunei, Del Rosario said China’s “increasing militarization” of two shoals in the West Philippine Sea was a violation of the Declaration of Conduct in the sea that the 10 members of the bloc signed with Beijing in 2002, agreeing not to cause tensions in the area.
Del Rosario said China’s persistent “destabilizing actions” in the West Philippine Sea posed “serious challenges for the region.”
His rebuke came a day after the Chinese newspaper People’s Daily warned that a “counterstrike” against the Philippines was inevitable if it continued to provoke China in the West Philippine Sea.
Asean has been trying to persuade Beijing to join talks on a proposed code of conduct this year, but China’s naval action has alarmed some members of the bloc, particularly the Philippines and Vietnam.
Until Sunday, China had appeared in little hurry to begin negotiations with Asean, saying it would do so “when the time is rife.”
Malacañang said Sunday that the government should not take lightly the Chinese threat of a counterstrike in the West Philippine Sea.
Secretary Herminio Coloma of the Presidential Communications Operations Office said the government should remain “vigilant” in protecting the country’s sovereignty in the face of China’s threat.
“We can’t be complacent. That’s the highest priority: protection of sovereignty,” Coloma said.
Full article: PH rebukes China for militarizing sea (Inquirer Global Nation)