MANILA – President Benigno Aquino III, urged China to help easing the tensions in the South China Sea, instead of intensifying it.
“We hope the other side would cooperate with us in reducing tensions instead of intensifying it,” Aquino said in Filipino, in a taped radio interview on Thursday.
The president also voiced out his concerns over reports of Beijing’s land reclamation activities in the disputed territories.
He also revealed that according to several intelligence reports, China continues its reclamation efforts including island, rocks and other land features building on territories in the West Philippine Sea.
“The islands have rights, the rocks don’t, when it comes to what is called their boundaries,” Aquino said, referring to the 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone, contiguous zone, continental shelf and territorial sea granted to islands.
The Unclos defines an island as “a naturally formed area of land, surrounded by water, which is above water at high tide.
Meanwhile, rocks are only entitled to a 12-nautical mile territorial sea, under the legal definition in the United Nations Convention on the Laws of the Seas (Unclos).
“It is a concern because when completed, those facilities can be used to intensify activities against the Philippine ships (and probably aircraft), carrying out the so-called cabbage strategy against all smaller claimants in the SCS (South China Sea). Whether it is a natural or artificial island is immaterial. It’s what it can actually do that really matters,” Jay Batongbacal said in a text message quoted in a report for the Philippine Star.