PH calls out China for 'reclamation activities' in WPS

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has called out China for its supposedly continuous reclamation activities in the unoccupied features in the South China Sea as they violate the existing agreement on the contested water.

DFA issued on Tuesday night a statement following the release of a Bloomberg report, which cited Western officials as saying that China is building up several unoccupied land features in the South China Sea, with new land formations having appeared above water over the past year at Eldad Reef in the northern Spratlys.

"We are seriously concerned as such activities contravene the Declaration of Conduct on the South China Sea's undertaking on self-restraint and the 2016 Arbitral Award," DFA said.

The agency said it already asked relevant Philippine agencies "to verify and validate the contents of this report."

The Chinese Embassy in Manila denied the report by calling it as "fake news." The embassy also cited a supposed investigation of a Twitter account belonging to a certain agency, SCS Probing Initiative, that rejected the veracity of the report.

China is claiming as part of its territory the whole South China Sea by unilaterally asserting its historical nine-dash line. But the 2016 Arbitral Ruling rejected that claim and ruled that the Philippines has sovereign rights over the West Philippine Sea—a big part of the South China Sea.

The ruling had been repeatedly ignored by China, including by doing various reclamation activities and deploying its fleets.

On December 12, the Philippines filed a diplomatic protest against China after the latter's coast guard forcibly took from the Philippine Navy a rocket wreckage it retrieved in the waters off the Pag-asa Islands.

Recently, the Department of National Defense also expressed "great concern" as Chinese vessels supposedly warmed some of the West Philippine Sea features.

China and its embassy in Manila had not issued any comments on the incidents until the United States, which considers the Philippines as its ally, spoke out by urging China to respect international law.