‘China hasn’t stopped construction on 17 South China Sea features’

New Delhi, (IANS) With China claiming it has “stopped” reclamation work on islets and rock features in the South China Sea, a top Philippines judicial official on Thursday said Beijing has merely stopped reclamation work on the 17 features but continues to build structures on the islets, including landing strips, bunkers and 3-4 storeyed concrete buildings.

Justice Antonio T. Carpio, senior associate judge of the Supreme Court of the Philippines, in his address at the 18th Sapru House Lecture, said: “China has said it has stopped reclamation, but not said that it has stopped construction work on the 17 features it has occupied.”

Speaking on the “The South China Sea Dispute”, Carpio said China through the Nine-dash-Line has laid claim to 3 million sq km of the total 3.5 million sq km of the South China Sea — laying claim to more than 85 percent of the sea.

Through this, the Philippines stands to lose more than 85 percent of its Exclusive Economic Zone, Malaysia too stands to lose 85 percent of its EEZ, Vietnam more than 50 percent, and Brunei 90 percent of its EEZ.

He said the shoals and islets in the South China Sea were rich in oil and gas and fishes, which China was virtually taking over as its property, ignoring the rights of the other littoral countries.

China has been increasing its naval might, by mass producing warships, and added 60 naval ships in 2014 alone.

He said China has 25 corvettes and has plans to add 40 more.

Beijing has said it needs 20 corvettes to control the South China Sea, and it already has 25.

Carpio said the Nine-Dash-Line has been arbitrarily drawn by China to lay claim over the territorial waters of the South China Sea and it should abide by the UNCLOS laws that govern international navigation and territorial rights.

The Philippines has approached the UN over violation of maritime laws by china.



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