November 21, 2023
MANILA – China’s reclamation activities “have come closer and closer to the Philippine coastline,” President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said.
According to him, the nearest location where China is interested in doing an alleged construction is “around 60 nautical miles” from the country’s shore. He also described the construction of the military bases as extensive.
Marcos disclosed this information after US Admiral John Aquilino, head of the Indo-Pacific Command, showed him a model of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) base being constructed in the West Philippine Sea.
“The nearest reefs that the PLA have started to show interest in, in terms of slowly, using these atolls, these shoals as a basis for building bases, really, is what they are, are approaching…have come closer and closer to the Philippine coastline. The nearest one is now around 60 nautical miles from the nearest Philippine coastline, and this is an evolving situation,” Marcos said Monday (Philippine time) during the Daniel K. Inouye Speaker Series in Oahu.
China has been encroaching into the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone as it insists on its 10-dash line claim over almost the entire South China Sea, overlapping West Philippine Sea.
It has engaged in many controversial behaviors in the disputed waters ranging from swarming atolls to firing water cannon at and deliberately ramming Philippine vessels.
The President spoke frankly and called the situation in the West Philippine Sea “more dire.”
“Ever so often, whenever there is a confrontation between outside forces and Philippine forces, this is, unfortunately, as I said to some of our partners, unfortunately, I cannot report that the situation is improving. The situation has become more dire than it was before,” said Marcos.
Marcos likewise commented about the incident in Escoda Shoal in September.
“The impact on biodiversity and the environment, I’m afraid, are assessed as possibly, already, irreversible,” he said.
Marcos stressed that the Philippines is developing partnerships with neighboring countries and like-minded nations, as well as states who share respect for international law.