Locsin suggests ending contracts with Chinese firms involved in West Philippine Sea reclamation

Patricia Lourdes Viray - Philstar.com
Locsin suggests ending contracts with Chinese firms involved in West Philippine Sea reclamation
This Oct. 31, 2017 satellite image shows China's construction on Mischief or Panganiban Reef, which is within the 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone of the Philippines.
CSIS / AMTI via DigitalGlobe

MANILA, Philippines — Concerned government agencies should terminate contracts with Chinese companies involved in island-building activities in the West Philippine Sea, the Philippines' top diplomat said Friday.

This was in response to the decision of the US to blacklist 24 state-owned firms for taking part in militarizing features in the disputed South China Sea, including the West Philippine Sea.

"If I find that any of those companies are doing business with us then I would strongly recommend terminating the relationship with that company," Locsin said in an interview with CNN Philippines' "The Source".

Locsin, however, admitted that he is not sure whether any of the Chinese companies sanctioned by the US have ongoing projects in the Philippines.

The DFA chief added that he would have to ask Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade and acting NEDA Secretary Karl Chua on the matter.

"If they were in any way involved in the reclamation then it becomes consistent on our part to terminate a contract with them," Locsin said.

Locsin further noted that he would have to study the nature of the US sanctions.

"Of course, if the contract has already been entered into they could sue us but that’s a good point because I’m very careful about anything China does," Locsin added.

Chinese firm in Sangley airport project involved in island-building

Among the 24 state-owned Chinese firms blacklisted by Washington are subsidiaries of construction giant China Communications Construction Co. (CCCC), which was awarded the initial phase of the Sangley Point International Airport project in Cavite.

In February, the Provincial Government of Cavite awarded the project to CCCC and Lucio Tan's MacroAsia Corp. The first phase of the project includes the development of an interim first runway with an annual design capacity for 25 million passengers and the new Sangley connector road and bridge.

The Chinese consortium's proposal for this project included its subsidiaries China Airport Construction Group Co. Ltd. and CCCC Dredging Group Co. Ltd.

CCCC Dredging Group Co. Ltd. was among the companies in the US entity list for "enabling" China to reclaim and militarize disputed outposts in the South China Sea, according to the US Department of Commerce.

The aforementioned list allows the agency to block exports of US goods and materials to them.

"Since 2013, the PRC (People's Republic of China) has used its state-owned enterprises to dredge and reclaim more than 3,000 acres on disputed features in the South China Sea, destabilizing the region, trampling on the sovereign rights of its neighbors, and causing untold environmental devastation," US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.

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