Law expert warns facilities would allow China to surveil PHL airspace


China’s structure-building effort in the disputed South China Sea had so expanded that facilities had been built beyond the Asian power’s original Nine-Dash Line territorial claim, GMA News TV program State of the Nation with Jessica Soho reported on Friday.

According to think-tank Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, China had been accelerating its South China Sea building program since 2014.

Since then radar stations, airstrips, military aircraft hangers, as well as anti-ship and anti-air missile batteries, had been built, mostly in the Spratly and Paracel Islands.

According to University of the Philippines professor and Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea Director Jay Batongbacal, these South China Sea facilities could give China control of Philippine airspace.

“All of their other sensors planned, they would eventually be able to cover the entire Philippines. So our airspace would be under their watchful eye in the near future,” explained Batongbacal.

The facilities could also give China control of the maritime traffic and trade that crossed the South China Sea.

“Everybody knows that these areas, especially in the Spratlys, they’re all disputed. And yet they act as if there is no dispute, they continue to build and militarize the area,” Batongbacal added. “That makes it more difficult to solve the disputes.”

While Batongbacal suggested that the Philippine government seek the help of other countries that also have claims in the South China Sea, GMA resident political analyst, Prof. Richard Heydarian urged the Philippine government to make it clear to China that we disagree with the latter’s buildup.

Heydarian also emphasized that because China had not yet completed its South China Sea buildup, there was still time for the Philippines to act.