China’s reclamation activities in certain features in the South China Sea has not stopped, contrary to the claim of Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, a report of the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) said.
According to the AMTI report dated August 9, 2017 which was posted on its website, China’s reclamation work did not end in mid-2015 with the completion of its artificial islands in the Spratlys.
“Beijing continues to reclaim land farther north, in the Paracel Islands. The two most recent examples of this are at Tree Island and North Island in the Amphitrite,” the report said.
Cayetano on Tuesday admitted that he did not want to include “land reclamation” and “militarization” in the South China Sea in the joint communiqué issued by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations during the 50th Asean Foreign Ministers’ Meeting.
“I didn’t want to include it. It’s not reflective of the present position. They (China) are not reclaiming land anymore,” Cayetano said.
But the AMTI noted that China has dredged a new harbor and added about 25 acres of additional land at the
Tree Island, even after it announced in 2015 that all reclamation has ended.
The report added China also reclaimed land on the “southern end of North island and built a retaining wall around the seven acres of new land to prevent further erosion.”
Beijing also constructed several new facilities and buildings, the report said.
In the joint communiqué issued during the 50th Asean Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Manila, top diplomats of the 10-member regional bloc emphasized the importance of non-militarization and stoppage of land reclamation and activities that have eroded trust and confidence, increased tensions that may undermine peace, security and stability in the region.
AMTI also documented Vietnam’s expansion of its facilities in the WPS, including dredging and reclamation work in several islets.