United States Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim on Tuesday, December 18, answered back at President Rodrigo Duterte’s comment stating that the United States did not do anything about China’s militarization of the West Philippine Sea.
“I’m not sure if it’s really fair to point a finger at the United States ‘cause we’re not doing anything. It’s China that’s taking aggressive unilateral actions in the disputed area,” Kim told ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC)’s “Beyond Politics.”
The president has earlier asked Washington why it failed to block the reclamation activities done by Beijing in the said territory.
“Our basic approach or position on the South China Sea situation really hasn’t changed. I think we have been consistent that we call on all claimant countries to refrain from aggressive unilateral actions,” the ambassador explained as reported by The Philippine Star.
“And we will do all we can to make sure that international rights and principles are protected,” the diplomat added.
This year alone, China has deployed several equipment including anti-cruise ship missiles and surface-to-air missiles, which can reach as far as 295 nautical miles of the reefs and 160 nautical miles, respectively. They also have electronic jamming equipment on its artificial islands in the South China Sea, part of which is the West Philippine Sea.
“China has obviously taken unilateral measures. They had indicated that they will refrain from militarization, but it appears that they have not,” Kim added.
A United Nations-backed tribunal has ruled that China violated its commitment under the Convention on the Law of the Sea when it conducted massive land reclamation activities in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone in July 2016. Among the areas are Fiery Cross Reef, Subi Reef and Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands.
China, however, disregarded the said ruling. They refused to acknowledge the landmarks and continued to claim that they have the indisputable sovereignty over the area.
This led the U.S. Navy to increase its presence in the South China Sea, despite China’s deliberate display of military equipment in the area. In fact, U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton earlier said that Washington is ready to build up its capabilities and increase patrols in the South China Sea.
“What I focus on is whether that’s affecting our relationship negatively and my sense is that it’s not. Our alliance is unique. The Philippines only has one military alliance and that’s with the United States and that has not changed and will not change,” Kim added.