DND chief: China actions don’t match words

Jaime Laude - The Philippine Star
DND chief: China actions don�t match words
Photo taken on Oct. 5, 2017 shows Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua inspecting Chinese-made CQ-A5b assault rifles during a turnover ceremony at Camp Aguinaldo.

MANILA, Philippines — Despite its repeated declarations of commitment to peace, China cannot hide its “bullying” of countries contesting its claim over the South China Sea, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said yesterday.

He was reacting to Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua’s pronouncement on Monday that China would use its military only for defense and “will not fire the first shot.”

Zhao made the remarks at the reception on the occasion of the 92nd anniversary of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) held in Makati City.

“It’s good to be heard just to keep us calm maybe or as consolation,” Lorenzana said of Zhao’s remark.

“But the bottomline is hindi magkatugma yung sinasabi nila sa ginagawa nila sa WPS (what they’re saying does not match their actions in the WPS),” he said, referring to the West Philippine Sea.

“They want peace in the South China Sea, blah blah blah, but it does not reflect what they are doing on the ground,” Lorenzana added.

He maintained that China’s seizure of Panatag Shoal, a traditional Filipino fishing ground off the coast of Zambales, was clearly bullying.

“They way that they took over Panatag Shoal (Scarborough), to me that is bullying,” he stressed.

Zhao in his PLA anniversary speech declared the situation in the South China Sea has stabilized through the concerted efforts of China and the Philippines as well as other claimant states belonging to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

“That is what I have questioned during the Shangri-La (Dialogue in Singapore) wherein they said we do not bully people around and they follow international law. But I said, you are not. What you are telling us is not what you are doing on the ground,” Lorenzana pointed out.

He said China’s declaration of commitment to peace and stability in the South China Sea is old hat.

“I have heard the version of that speech many times already. I heard that from the mouth of (President) Xi Jinping when we met him with the President, first time we met in 2016,” Lorenzana said.

“Until such time that their words are matched with deeds, then all of the pronouncements of Chinese officials are doubtful,” he said.

Aside from Panatag Shoal, Beijing has seven occupied areas in the Spratlys island chain, three of which have already been transformed into highly fortified forward naval and air bases.

Beijing-occupied areas in the region are all located within the Philippines’ Kalayaan Island Group (KIG).

At Malacañang, presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said President Duterte is not taking at face value Beijing’s claim that it “will not take the first shot.”  

Despite China’s assurance, Panelo said Duterte anticipates possible scenarios that may arise from the West Philippine Sea row.

“We do not take words of other countries on their face value. The President will always think beyond those words,” Panelo said at a press briefing. 

“The President is mandated to protect the security of this country, as well as the Filipino people, hence he will anticipate what may come out of any aggressive action that this country may undertake vis-à-vis the conflict in that area,” he added.

When reminded that Duterte believed in the Chinese president’s statement that there would be trouble if the Philippines insists on its plan to dig oil in the West Philippine Sea, Panelo said: “We took it as an anticipation of what may happen.”

“Even without those saying that, we always think of the security of the Filipino people,” he added.

Duterte has been using the statement of Xi to rebuke critics who accuse him of not doing enough to assert the Philippines’ rights in the West Philippine Sea. Xi reportedly made the remark during a meeting with Duterte in Beijing three years ago.

The Philippine leader has repeatedly said he would not go to war with China over the maritime row, saying it would result in a “massacre” of Filipino forces.

He has also challenged the United States to take the lead in confronting China over its aggressive actions in disputed areas.

Panelo said the Philippines would continue to negotiate with China to resolve the South China Sea dispute. – With Alexis Romero

vuukle comment




  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

Get Updated:

Signup for the News Round now

or sign in with