China slammed the Philippines for its hypocrisy on the South China Sea after Manila said that it would resume repair and reconstruction works there, news outlets reported Friday.
While the Philippines had halted such activities last year and suggested other countries do so as well because it was concerned about potential effects on its ongoing legal case against China, Foreign Minister Albert del Rosario had said Thursday that it would resume some activities. The move came amid massive Chinese land reclamation efforts there which Philippine officials say is designed to bolster Beijing’s territorial claims and alter the status quo before any legal verdict is even reached by the arbitral tribunal at The Hague.
But on Friday, China used del Rosario’s comments as an opportunity to turn the tables on the Philippines. According to Reuters, foreign policy spokesman Hua Chunying said China was now “seriously concerned” by Manila’s decision to resume works in the South China Sea, which was both an infringement of Beijing’s sovereignty and hypocritical.
“On the one hand the Philippines makes unreasonable criticism about China’s normal building activities on its own isles, and on the other announces it will resume repairs on an airport, runway and other illegal constructions on China’s Spratly Islands, which it illegally occupies,” Hua said.
“This is not only a series infringement of China’s sovereignty, but it also exposes the Philippines’ hypocrisy,” she noted at a news briefing. She also called on the Philippines to withdraw from the islands.
Foreign Minister Albert del Rosario had emphasized Thursday in his remarks that the Philippines would only be proceeding on repair and maintenance in the South China Sea, and such works – which would include repairs on an airstrip – would not violate the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea because it did not alter the status quo dramatically.
“We are taking the position that we can proceed with the repair and maintenance,” del Rosario said according to Reuters.
This was in stark contrast to China’s massive land reclamation activities, which del Rosario said aimed to change the status quo and enforce its infamous nine-dash line claim to control almost the whole South China Sea.
“China is accelerating its expansionist agenda and changing the status quo to actualize its nine-dash line claim and to control nearly the entire South China Sea before…the handing down of a decision of the arbitral tribunal on the Philippine submission,” he said.