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Statement on Claims by CSIS-AMTI of Ongoing Reclamation Activities in the South China Sea

11 August 2017 — The remarks of the Honorable Secretary of Foreign Affairs during the press conference at the end of the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting and Related Meetings on Tuesday must be taken in its full context.  

In describing the process of discussions during the AMM, the Secretary noted that each ASEAN Member State goes into the talks with both their own national perspectives and the larger regional interest in mind.

The position of the Philippines is to always reflect the current situation in the West Philippine Sea and the foreign policy direction of the Philippines--which is not to surrender a single inch of Philippine territory while at the same time working towards good neighborly relations with other claimants--is always based on the latest intelligence we have on the ground.

The Secretary explained that while the Philippines came into the talks at a time when it has received no further reports of island building in features claimed by the Philippines, he agreed with the other ASEAN Foreign Ministers that concerns over land reclamation would still need to be reflected in the Joint Communique, in consideration of the probability that land reclamation may still be occurring or may yet occur in features in the South China Sea outside of the Philippine claim.

While there have been land reclamation activities that have taken place in the Paracels in the previous months based on the AMTI report, the same report did not indicate that such activity was taking place just prior to the AMM. We would like to assure the public that if ever there are reports to the contrary, these will be carefully studied, verified and handled accordingly.

As Chair of the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting, the Philippines’ primary goal was to ensure that the Joint Communique reflected the interests of the region and the ASEAN consensus.

As such, the Joint Communique reflected the recent developments which promote confidence-building and contribute to reducing tensions in the region, such as the adoption of the Framework of the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea and the operationalization of the Foreign Ministry-to-Foreign Ministry Hotlines and application of the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea in the South China Sea. END