China’s reclamation projects in Cuarteron (Calderon) and Gaven (Burgos) reefs are as big as the SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City, one of the biggest malls in Southeast Asia, Defense spokesman Peter Galvez said.
Galvez said new reclamation projects in Mischief (Panganiban) and Subi (Zamora) reefs in the disputed Kalayaan Island Group (KIG) have also been confirmed by the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
Galvez said the structures in Cuarteron and Gaven have even earned the moniker “Mall of KIG.”
“(The reclamation) is causing a lot of apprehension. We know that they are drilling, but what is it for? The mere fact that you are building infrastructure that is potentially security in nature is alarming,” he said.
“You can assume there is high-tech equipment involved. What’s stopping them from declaring another ADIZ (Air Defense Identification Zone) in the area?” Galvez added.
Beijing’s ADIZ in the East China Sea, which requires aircraft to provide flight plans when traversing the area, covers disputed Tokyo-controlled islands – known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China.
“They (China) are literally rocking the boat in the West Philippine Sea. They are destroying the marine eco-system in the area. Their words that they are for freedom of navigation are contrary to their actions,” Galvez said.
“China should dismantle all these structures,” he added.
Galvez said there are more than a dozen Chinese ships in the disputed areas within the West Philippine Sea, which he said “increase the chances of untoward incidents.”
Over the weekend, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the reclamation projects in disputed territories are necessary as he insisted that these areas are well within China’s jurisdiction.
“We are not like some countries which have carried out illegal building in other people’s home, and we won’t accept unwarranted remarks about work on our own home,” he said in a press conference in Beijing.
On February 4, the Philippines filed a diplomatic protest against China for its massive land reclamation in Mischief Reef.
Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose said Mischief Reef “is a low tide elevation in the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines and on its continental shelf.”