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US: China’s reef activities not conducive to regional stability

Jose Katigbak - The Philippine Star

WASHINGTON – The landing of three Chinese planes on two separate occasions on the disputed Kagitingan (Fiery Cross) Reef in the South China Sea does nothing to foster stability in the region and is of concern to the United States, Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said.

China on Wednesday said it landed two civilian planes on the 3,000-meter runway it constructed in Kagitingan, four days after a first flight to test the safety of the airstrip.

“We clearly are concerned by these flights... and we’re concerned by all of these activities being conducted by the Chinese in disputed islands in the South China Sea,” Cook said at a news briefing.

“Anything being done by any country to try and raise tensions over these disputed islands, and to try and militarize or engage in reclamation activities in these islands, we think only adds to instability in the South China Sea,” he said.

“These flights do nothing to foster further stability and understanding in that part of the world,” he said.

The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have overlapping claims to parts of the sea, most of which China claims as its own.

Kagitingan, for instance, is also claimed by the Philippines, and by Vietnam which refers to it as  Da Chu Thap. Both countries have protested the landings.

State Secretary John Kerry at a news briefing on Thursday said he is in consultation with America’s allies in the region regarding developments in the South China Sea.

He spoke on Wednesday with his Vietnamese counterpart Pham Binh and they discussed how to improve Vietnam’s maritime awareness.

Kerry and Defense Secretary Ashton Carter will meet in Washington next Tuesday with Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin of the Philippines.

High on the agenda at the 2+2 ministerial meeting is the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) which allows the return of US troops on a rotational basis to the Philippines.

Last November President Barack Obama during a visit to Manila pledged to hand over two ships to the Philippine Navy to boost its maritime security capabilities.

Obama said the US had an “ironclad commitment” to the Philippines, a treaty ally.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ACIRC

BRUNEI AND TAIWAN

DA CHU THAP

ENHANCED DEFENSE COOPERATION AGREEMENT

FIERY CROSS

FOREIGN SECRETARY ALBERT

KAGITINGAN

KERRY AND DEFENSE SECRETARY ASHTON CARTER

LAST NOVEMBER PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA

NBSP

SOUTH CHINA SEA

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