Duterte: China's military facilities intended for US

In this July 2013 photo, the guided-missile destroyer USS Lassen (DDG 88) is underway in the Philippine Sea. Lassen recently sailed near China's artificial island on Subi Reef in the disputed sea, US defense officials said on Tuesday.

US Navy/Declan Barnes/Released
Duterte: China's military facilities intended for US
Patricia Lourdes Viray (Philstar.com) - February 20, 2018 - 10:59am

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte downplayed China's construction of military outposts in the South China Sea, saying that it is not intended for the Philippines.

Despite Beijing's construction of artificial islands in the West Philippine Sea or South China Sea, the president stressed that the disputed area is part of the country's territory.

"It’s not intended for us. The contending ideological powers of the world or the geopolitics has greatly changed. It’s really intended against those who the Chinese think would destroy them and that is America," Duterte said in a speech before the Chinese business club.

RELATED: Philippines insists on dialogue with China amid completed airbase in South China Sea

Duterte, who has been pursuing closer ties with Beijing, also criticized the past administration for not addressing China's massive land reclamation activities in the West Philippine Sea.

"What were they doing during their time? Why did they not start to build things there, structures that China is doing now?" Duterte said.

In 2014, the Philippines, under the Aquino administration, submitted a case to the United Nations-backed arbitral tribunal against China over competing South China Sea claims.

A year after the Philippines filed the arbitration, it was reported that China is transforming Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands into an island. Beijing then said that they are building shelters, aids for navigation, search and rescue, fishery services and other administrative services for China and neighboring countries.

In July 2016, the UN-backed tribunal ruled that China violated its commitment under the Convention on the Law of the Sea upon constructing artificial islands in the Philippines' exclusive economic zone.

By the end of 2017, China has nearly completed installing military facilities in its "big three" islands in the Spratlys – Subi, Mischief, and Fiery Cross reefs.

A report from US-based think tank Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative shows that China is likely using Fiery Cross or Kagitingan Reef as its intelligence hub in the Spratlys.

READ: Fiery Cross Reef transformed into Chinese airbase, says report

"None of the other bases in the Spratlys so far has a comparable array, though smaller ones have been built on Subi and Mischief, suggesting that Fiery Cross might be serving as a signals intelligence/communications hub for Chinese forces in the area," the report read.

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