DND: China militarization a 'tipping point' of an 'irreversible crisis'

Alexis Romero (Philstar.com) - August 13, 2015 - 10:00pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of National Defense (DND) is wary of China's plan to build search and rescue facilities on the reclaimed areas in the South China Sea and warned that such activities could be the "tipping point" of an "irreversible crisis."

DND spokesman Peter Galvez is wondering why the Chinese government is constructing search and rescue facilities on the disputed reefs.

"Maybe we should ask: 'For whom are those search and rescue facilities for?' Is it for our ships and installations that they are threatening to destroy?" Galvez said in a text message.

Galvez said such facilities are mere elements of China's "island building militarization that needs to stop and be dismantled."

RELATED: Philippines to China: Ensure freedom of navigation, halt construction

"Regardless of what supposedly 'good' details the Chinese leadership informs the peace-focused and rules-based international community, they illegally and blatantly continue with their aggression," he added.

Galvez believes China's plan to put up search and rescue facilities is meant to cover up its military build-up.

"They are simply trying to cover their tracks. This is the worst stage of all, this is the militarization stage," the defense official said.

"It must be stopped otherwise it will be the tipping point that will plunge the entire region including the peace-loving Chinese communities into a deeper and irreversible crisis," he added.

China is claiming about 90 percent of the South China Sea while the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have overlapping claims.

To fortify its territorial claim, China implemented a massive, ambitious land reclamation on seven reefs that are also being claimed by the Philippines.

The construction projects are located in Panganiban (Mischief), Zamora (Subi), Kagitingan (Fiery Cross), Kennan (Chigua), Mabini (Johnson South), Burgos (Gaven) and Calderon (Cuarteron) Reefs.

China is said to be building artificial islands with airstrips, radar systems and military barracks, a move that has raised concern among members of the international community who are worried about its impact on freedom of navigation.

Philippine officials said China's reclamation is a violation of the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, which bars any activity that would complicate the territorial dispute.

Despite the criticisms and condemnations from various countries, there are no indications that China is about to stop its activities on its artificial islands.

On Tuesday, Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua announced that China is planning to build facilities on reclaimed reefs to support freedom of navigation, search and rescue efforts and scientific research.

Galvez said it is becoming evident that the Chinese leadership has no intention of honoring its commitment to the declaration it signed with Southeast Asian countries in 2002.

"They've (China) said one thing and have done another," he said.

BRUNEI AND TAIWAN CHINA CHINESE AMBASSADOR CONDUCT OF PARTIES DEPARTMENT OF NATIONAL DEFENSE FIERY CROSS GALVEZ JOHNSON SOUTH ON TUESDAY QUOT SOUTH CHINA SEA
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