China’s efforts to stake its claim to most of the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea) should spark fear around the world, President Benigno Aquino 3rd told Agence France-Presse on Tuesday.
“Does it engender fear? Yes, I think it should engender fear for the rest of the world,” Aquino said in an exclusive interview at Malacanang Palace in Manila.
China’s reclamation activities on reefs and islets in contested parts of the South China Sea, and other actions to assert sovereignty, according to him, threatened access to international shipping lanes and fishing grounds there.
He warned that, while he did not believe China intended to engage in a military conflict over territorial disputes with the Philippines and other Asian nations, that was a possibility.
“The question of it escalating to something beyond everybody’s control should be at the top of the minds of all world leaders,” Aquino said.
China claims sovereignty over most of the South China Sea, including areas near the coasts of other Asian nations, using a line that first appeared on Chinese maps in the 1940s.
The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei Darussalam and Taiwan have overlapping claims. AFP