‘China should not be allowed access to artificial islands’

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WASHINGTON, D.C.: Donald Trump’s secretary of state pick Rex Tillerson hit out at China Wednesday (Thursday in Manila) during his Senate confirmation hearing, warning the US would send a “clear signal” that the Asian giant must abandon its artificial islands in the South China Sea.

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“We’re going to have to send China a clear signal that, first the island-building stops, and second, your access to those islands is also not going to be allowed,” Tillerson told a US Senate committee.

Beijing has fuelled regional tensions by turning tiny, ecologically fragile reefs and islets in the strategically vital South China Sea into artificial islands hosting military facilities.

The former ExxonMobil chief said China’s building in the disputed waters and its declaration of an air defense identification zone over the Japanese-controlled Senkaku islands in the East China Sea were “illegal actions.”

“They are taking territory or control or declaring control of territories that are not rightfully China’s.”

Beijing asserts a claim to almost the whole of the South China Sea, which the Philippines calls the West Philippine Sea, based on a “nine-dash line” dating to 1940s-era maps.

An international tribunal – whose jurisdiction Beijing rejected – ruled last year on a suit lodged by the Philippines that there was no legal basis to such claims.

Apart from the Philippines, other countries that have overlapping claims in the South China Sea are Brunei, Vietnam and Malaysia.

‘Wait and see’

Malacañang on Thursday said it would adopt in the meantime a “wait-and-see” approach on Trump’s policy on the South China Sea dispute.

“The remarks of Mr. Rex Tillerson during his confirmation hearing before the United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee reflect his personal beliefs and should be respected,” Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said in a statement.

“The reasonable response is to wait and see what the new administration’s policy pronouncements will be,” he added.

The Palace official reiterated that the Duterte government was committed to pursue a peaceful resolution to the dispute with China.

“What is important is for both sides to remain committed to peace and stability in this part of the world and to refrain from any and all acts that would jeopardize freedom of navigation and overflights along this vital sea lane,” Andanar said.

On Wednesday, Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. said the Philippines, as chairman of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations this year, would intensify efforts to fast-track discussions on the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and eventually complete the long-delayed framework for a Code of Conduct in the contested waters.

WITH A REPORT FROM CATHERINE S. VALENTE

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5 Comments

  1. Let us be truly who we are. Surely we have no capability to go to war, let us approach in peaceful means in Duterte’s way, but let us not allow our premises to build up more arms by U.S. If U.S. can assert discipline against abuse in the WPS, let them do it for the benefit of world peace.

  2. China, you better get the hell out of artificial island you illegally stolen! Trump is coming! Obama is out! I believe Tillerson knows that China’s ultimate goal is to build military bases in that China sea! The USA must strike the iron while it is still hot! General D. MacArthur – “There is no substitute for victory.”

  3. mabait ako talaga on

    China has redrawn their Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) in East and South China Sea in the last couple of years. However, Japan refused to honor China’s redrawn ADIZ in East China Sea because China is claiming Senkaku Islands as theirs. On the first day that the China’s redrawn ADIZ in East China Sea should become effective, anybody that crosses that ADIZ line should contact the Chinese Navy asking permission to supposedly cross their line. However, Japan sent few ships in the vicinity of the islands and crossed China’s new ADIZ line without calling or asking permission from China’s Navy or Coast Guard. The U.S. also sent two B-52 Bombers to cross the line without calling or asking permission from the China’s Navy. The U.S two B-52 bombers were never challenged in any way shape of form. The Pentagon issued a statement later that the U.S. will not honor the newly redrawn ADIZ in East and South China Sea, and neither the artificial islands that they built close to the Philippines. The U.S. Navy then said that they will continue to fly, swim, sail and patrol all the International Waters in the world. All they wanted is to have a freedom of navigation, and the artificial islands they created close to the Philippines would choke the freedom of navigation, to include Filipinos coming from Northern Luzon flying to Palawan taking that route, over the artificial islands.

  4. Peaceful solution to South China sea dispute is > China should NOT be allowed to access islets Not her own. International Sea court say’s “It’s not owned by China”. The international community community shall impose international court verdict if USA got balls to lead imposition of world order. Otherwise USA is kaput, weakling in the face of China’s invasion of international sea.