MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines slammed China on Friday, February 19, over reports that Beijing deployed missiles on an island in the disputed South China Sea.
“The Philippines is gravely concerned by reports that China has deployed surface-to-air missiles on Woody Island,” the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said in a statement.
“Such actions negate China’s earlier commitment not to militarize the South China Sea,” the DFA added.
This comes after China confirmed that it has weapons on Woody Island, which is part of the Paracels chain of islands, in the South China Sea.
Beijing claims all of the Paracels, though Hanoi and Taipei have overlapping claims. China seized several islands from South Vietnam in a brief, bloody battle toward the end of the Vietnam War.
The Philippines is not claiming the Paracels.
Manila, however, filed a case against Beijing over portions of the disputed waters, also called the West Philippine Sea.
'Eroding trust, confidence'
In its statement on Friday, the DFA also said the new developments in the disputed waters “further erode trust and confidence and aggravate the already tense situation in the region.”
The DFA said it is “a clear violation” of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-China Declaration of Conduct (DOC) in the South China Sea.
Signed in 2002, the DOC is a non-binding document urging “self-restraint” against activities affecting peace and stability in the South China Sea.
The Philippines wants a binding document, a Code of Conduct, to replace the DOC.
The DFA said that by deploying missiles in the South China Sea, China is casting doubts on its good faith “to work with ASEAN for the early conclusion of the COC, and to cooperate in the efforts of all parties to find ways forward on the peaceful settlement of disputes” in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior reporter leading Rappler’s coverage of religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.