Chinese Militia Aside, Philippines to Keep Building on Disputed Islet
China and the Philippines became friends in 2016 after four years of struggling for control over a shoal where both sides fish. The friendship has held, but in December and January, China moved as many as 90 ships close to another islet they dispute to monitor Philippine construction of a beaching ramp. The naval, coast guard and idle fishing vessels just watched, but Philippine officials know China has the more powerful military. Still, the Philippines is expected to keep building on the islet, called Thitu, without hurting relations with China. "It will continue, but there seems to be no effort on the part of the Philippine government to try to at least say something or file a diplomatic protest regarding the number of boats that have responded to the development," said Maria Ela Atienza, a University of the Philippines political science professor. China values its friendship with the Philippines to keep Manila's ally, Washington, out of the maritime dispute, scholars believe, so it moved ships near Thitu in a way that raises alarm without stopping island construction or causing other material setbacks. Authority in the Spratly Islands The 37-hectares (90 acres) belongs to a bigger sovereignty dispute over the South China Sea where it's located. China claims about 90 percent of the 3.5 million-square-kilometer waterway, competing for sovereignty with five other governments, including the Philippines. Beijing has taken a lead militarily over the past decade to access the sea's fisheries, oil and gas. Scarborough Shoal, over which the two countries sparred from 2012 to 2016 before making amends, is in the same sea. On Thitu, one of nine Philippine-held islands in the sea's Spratly chain, the beaching ramp should be finished in early 2019, the Philippine defense secretary, Delfin Lorenzana, has said. Resident housing, a fishing port, desalination plant, solar energy project and... If you wish to read this full breaking news headline, plus more articles from around Thailand and Asia like, Chinese Militia Aside, Philippines to Keep Building on Disputed Islet, simply click on 'Read full story' below, but 1st please give us a 'LIKE' or 'SHARE' before you leave. Thank you
Published By: VOA NEWS - Monday, 18 February
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