Philippines Skeptical of China’s Reclamation Work in Contested Sea


The Philippines is expressing “serious concern” over newly released satellite images that show major progress in China’s reclamation work at contested outcroppings in the South China Sea.

The latest images published by IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly show “a large facility” in the works at Johnson South Reef. In May 2014, the Philippine military reported a Chinese construction ship was moving sand and rocks to augment the reef.

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The latest images also show, from the start of construction at Gaven Reefs last March through this January, what appears to be a helipad and anti-aircraft tower. The report says the work at Gaven has “almost identical footprints” to the reclamation activities at nearby Hughes Reef, which is claimed by Vietnam.

Philippine Foreign Affairs Spokesman Charles Jose says the country is “seriously concerned” about China’s reclamation work.

“And we have noted that China’s construction [on] these features is plainly intended to change the character, the status and maritime entitlements of these features,” he explained. “And we have strongly urged China to desist from the reclamation work that they’re doing.”

Manila has filed multiple protests with Beijing over China’s reclamation work at several outcroppings the Philippines claims among the Spratly Islands. Jose said China’s response to the last submitted Johnson South Reef protest was that it has indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea’s islands.
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