China offer to allow use of reclaimed area ‘insincere’

Posted on May 05, 2015

CHINA’S OFFER to allow the United States and other nations to use islands it reclaimed at the disputed South China Sea has been dismissed by the Philippines as “insincere” and an “attempt to deflect international criticism.”

A satellite image of what is claimed to be an airstrip at the top end of Fiery Cross Reef in the Spratly Islands. -- AFP
The Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) made these remarks after China’s Defense Minister Admiral Wu Shengli was quoted to have said last week that Beijing “welcome[s] international organizations, the US and relevant countries to use [the] facilities, when conditions are ripe, to conduct cooperation on humanitarian rescue and disaster relief.”

The US has rejected the offer.

According to DFA Assistant Secretary Charles C. Jose, China’s suggestion only came after it got flak from international community, particularly from the G7 foreign ministers and US President Barack Obama.

“We can say that [the offer is not sincere] because it came out after the G7 statement, and especially after (President Barack) Obama gave a statement. [Only after did] they come up with these things, like offering to use these facilities. We think that’s only attempt of China to deflect international criticisms of the aggressive behavior that they’re doing right now in South China Sea,” Mr. Jose said in his regular briefing.

The DFA spokesperson also took the offer as an effort to move the attention away from the damages caused by the China’s reclamation work to the biodiversity of the contested islands.

“We should not be distracted by these things. Instead we should focus on the core issues. The most recent of this and most serious one is the reclamation work that they’re doing because of the massive and irreparable damage this is causing to the environment and ecosystem,” Mr. Jose explained.

Marine resources -- including coral reef ecosystems -- destroyed by China’s reclamation activities in the disputed West Philippine Sea have reached $109.55 million, a national scientist of the Philippines claimed last month. -- Jauhn Etienne Villaruel