Philippines says China expanding territory before code takes effect
By Rosemarie Francisco and Manuel Mogato, ReutersMANILA--China's planned occupation of a disputed shoal in the South China Sea is aimed at expanding its territory ahead of a regional agreement governing maritime rules, the Philippines' top diplomat said on Wednesday.
September 5, 2013, 12:01 am TWN
The Philippines believes China has jeopardized peace and stability in Southeast Asia with its latest incursion, said Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, and he urged Southeast Asian neighbors to speed up talks on a binding code of conduct (CoC) that will govern behavior in the sea.
The Philippines will be filing a diplomatic protest against China after it discovered concrete blocks on the Scarborough Shoal which Chinese ships have been occupying since April last year, he said.
“We think that China is trying to stay ahead of the CoC, “ del Rosario told Reuters in an interview in his Manila office. “We think that they have an assertion agenda that they are trying to complete before they are able to sit down and negotiate a CoC.”
“There are some sectors that believe China's delaying action on the CoC is a strategic procrastination on their part ... because the CoC looks forward, not back.”
“This kind of activity places the region in jeopardy in terms of peace and stability,” del Rosario said.
“If the Philippines is the target of China today, another country could be the target tomorrow. So this should be considered as a regional issue.”
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said on Tuesday he had “no information” about the latest Philippine accusation of an incursion on the shoal.