PH urges China to rethink position on construction freeze

Posted at 06/17/14 5:03 PM

MANILA - The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Tuesday urged China to rethink its position to reject a moratorium or freeze on activities that escalate tension in the South China Sea.

In a statement, the DFA reiterated its call on all claimant states to halt construction activities in the disputed territories that may raise tensions.

"We must add to this, how tension could be managed, which should be by full effect of the [Declaration of Conduct] and expeditious conclusion of the [Code of Conduct]. All of these are intended to await mechanism for resolution of disputes which is the outcome of Philippine arbitration case, for clarification of martime entitlements for everyone's benefit," the department said.

"We hope China will rethink its position. This is good for China, This is good for everyone."

Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario earlier said he supported U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia Daniel Russel's proposal for China and Southeast Asian states to get together for dialogue.

"Let's call for a moratorium in terms of activities that escalate tension," del Rosario told ANC Television on Monday. "Now, let's do that while we work on an expeditious conclusion of the code of conduct and effective implementation."

Del Rosario said China and other claimant states have been rushing construction activities in their respective claimed territories, citing works in Fiery Cross Reef, Johnson South Reef, Gaven Reef, and Cuarteron Reef.

"They're accelerating their expansion agenda for the following reasons, what are they? One is they want to do this before the conclusion of the code of conduct. They're also trying to do this very quickly in anticipation of the handing down of the tribunal award."

In response, China's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said China had a right to do what it wanted on its islands in the South China Sea as they were Chinese territory, and criticized the Philippines for what it called Manila's illegal occupation of some of the islands and construction work there.

"On the one hand, the Philippines keep making further provocative moves, and one the other hand makes thoughtless remarks about China's appropriate moves within the scope of our sovereignty. This is totally unreasonable," she told a daily news briefing.

Southeast Asian states have been pressing China to conclude a Code of Conduct - a set of rules governing naval actions - for the South China Sea. With a report from Reuters