The Philippines and the United States are concerned over the Chinese reclamation activities in the disputed South China Sea.
Top U.S. and Philippine officials met for two days in Manila. They discussed trade and defense. The meeting ended Wednesday.
Maritime security was a major subject of discussion. The delegates talked about China’s continuing reclamation work on reefs and shoals in the Spratly Islands.
China and The Philippines each claim ownership of the islands. So do several other countries in the area.
Last month, the top Philippine military chief of staff said intelligence information showed that building at one of the larger land reefs could be completed soon. China wants to build an area on which to land airplanes.
Philippine Defense Undersecretary Pio Lorenzo Batino expressed serious concern over China’s progress.
“We have to increase our capabilities and that will only come through modernization. This is a realization of course ... of the needed modernization that we needed to implement earlier.”
U.S. Defense Assistant Secretary David Shear, spoke to reporters after the meeting. He said his department’s 2015 budget includes $40 million in military loans and support for the Philippines.
The Philippines is in the middle of starting a five-year $1.8 billion military modernization program. However, its naval and air force services will remain much smaller than its neighbors.
The Philippines military is taking a diplomatic move toward the situation. An international court is examining its case against China for what it calls China’s “excessive claims in the South China Sea.” China rejects the action at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague and did not provide any supporting materials.
Daniel Russel is an Assistant U.S. Secretary of State. He says the United States has repeatedly called on China to honor a declaration it signed with the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
The declaration centered on China keeping the peace over the competing claims. It also called on China to follow international law as the basis for its claims in the South China Sea.
Philippine Foreign Undersecretary Evan Garcia says his government wants “a peaceful resolution.” He says Chinese reclamation activities on the disputed islands do not help to reach that goal.
I’m Marsha James.
Simone Orendain reported this story from Manila. Marsha James wrote it for Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.
Words in This Story
reclamation – adj. not having any or enough of something that is needed or wanted
maritime – adj. of or relating to sailing on the sea or doing business by sea
reef – n. a long line of rocks or coral or a high area of sand near the surface of the water in the ocean
shoal – n. an area where the water in a sea, lake, or river is not deep
implement – v. to begin to do or use (something, such as a plan)
excessive – adj. going beyond what is usual, normal, or proper