Chinese weather stations in Spratleys serve military purposes – Batongbacal
November 6, 2018 | 11:01 am
MANILA, Philippines – Beijing’s weather monitoring stations on the Spratly Islands should also be seen as a continued development and improvement of military outposts to features claimed by Manila, a marine surveyor said.
Jay Batongbacal, director of the Institute for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea at the University of the Philippines, said China’s recent activities on its man-made islands should be seen in the context of its efforts to take control de facto from the South China Sea, which is part of which is the West Philippine Sea.
“Even though they may provide public goods, these are incidental to their primary role within the framework of Chinese military bases. They also serve military purposes, as all large / important military bases have their own meteorological services for support their usual military operations such as launching and landing planes and ships, ”Batongbacal said on Facebook.
The operation of weather monitoring stations on three elements of the Spratly Islands – Fiery Cross, Mischief and Subi Reefs – is also part of Beijing’s long-term efforts to assert its rights and exercise sovereignty over the disputed waterway.
“The acceptance of these ‘public goods’ could be seen as acquiescence to Chinese civil administration and control of this maritime region,” he added.
No need to check
During a press briefing on Monday, presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said the government had yet to obtain confirmation on Chinese weather station operations in the Spratly Islands.
Malacañang spokesman said it was “mere” reports despite the official announcement from China’s Foreign Ministry.
“There is no reason to doubt and ‘verify’ this information as this is an official announcement by the MOFA spokesperson,” Batongbacal said.
Foreign Affairs spokesman Elmer Cato said the DFA was coordinating with relevant government agencies and the Philippine Embassy in Beijing to verify the reports.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang confirmed this at a press briefing on November 1, saying the projects were “designed to observe marine, hydrological, meteorological and sea conditions. air and provide services such as marine warning and forecasting, tsunami warning, weather forecasting, air quality forecasting, and disaster prevention and relief. “
Lu added that the projects would provide more “public services” to countries in the region and guarantee freedom of navigation in the South China Sea.
“As a great responsible country, China will continue to fulfill its obligations and commitments through concrete actions and make its contribution to the security of the South China Sea and the benefit of the people of this region,” Lu said.
Protest against China’s actions
Batongbacal urged the Philippine government to protest against China’s creation of such facilities, which also play a role on military bases when they were originally intended to “provide the public good.”
“The Philippines should protest this latest move by China as it is definitely part of the larger effort to assert China’s long-term sovereignty / rights claims, and unilaterally impose its position on other riparian states. “said Batongbacal.
Panelo said earlier that the DFA would certainly take the necessary diplomatic action once the Philippine government confirms the reported operation of weather monitoring facilities in the Spratleys.
Echoing Malacañang’s statement, the DFA also said it would “take appropriate action if these reports are validated.”