MANILA – Despite China releasing pictures of vegetable gardens in the reclaimed Kagitingan (Fiery Cross) Reef, the Department of National Defense (DND) still withholds its claim that China may be accomplishing massive and rapid reclamation activities in the disputed Spratly Islands for military purposes.
Kagitingan Reef, which is on the western edge of the Spratly archipelago, is being claimed by China, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam.
DND spokesman Peter Galvez asserts that China could have done its tree and vegetable planting in mainland China and not in its artificial islands in the disputed waters.
“Those efforts would have more impact if it were done in their arid lands in western China and not in illegally occupied areas,” Galvez said.
“The fact remains that their nine-dash line claim has always been a lie and simply used to deceive and trick the world and the Chinese people for the real intention of grabbing and militarizing the sea,” he added, pointing out that the nine-dash line covered almost the entire West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
Aside from reclamation works in Kagitingan Reef, China is also building artificial islands and infrastructures in Burgos (Gaven), Calderon (Cuarteron), Kennan (Chigua), Mabini (Johnson South), Panganiban (Mischief) and Zamora (Subi) Reefs.
The Philippines has long been arguing that China’s reclamation activities in the disputed territories are against the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, which declares that countries involved in the disputed waters should ‘exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities that would complicate or escalate disputes and affect peace and stability’ in the region.