The Philippines has announced it will resume construction activity in the hotly disputed South China Sea waters after taking a several-months hiatus because of concerns that it could have an effect on a complaint that it filed against China to international courts.
Last October, Manila called on all governments with vested interest in the area to call off work, but were largely ignored. Now, Manila says they are ready to join China and other countries who have continued to tinker with facilities in the disputed region. “We are taking the position that we can proceed with the repair and maintenance,” Foreign Minister Albert del Rosario said on Thursday according to Reuters. He said this will include making repairs to an airstrip, which would not jeopardize their claims to the area or disrupt regional stability.
While the Philippines was taking a hiatus in making their own facility developments in the region, China has forged an impressive undertaking of reclamation. China, which lays claim to nearly all of the South China Sea region, continues to flex military dominance in the area with its newly constructed man-made island among the Spratly Islands. A report by IHS Jane's revealed the astounding speed in which China’s military dredged the reefs to build the island, which is reportedly home to an airstrip, boosting the country’s surveillance capabilities in the area.
Taiwanese, Malaysian and Vietnamese governments have all expressed concern over China’s rapid expansion in the region as the result of the country’s maritime “nine-dash line” border claims, which is not recognized by the United Nations Law of the Sea or Southeast Asian neighbors. Still, the Philippines continues to be the most vocal in their countering claims to the resource-rich waters, which also are significant economic zones. Manila went as far as filing an arbitration case with The Hague’s International Court of Justice, of which China has rejected participation in.