China's plan to set up an oil rig in the South China Sea in July and several sightings of Chinese naval vessels within Philippines territorial waters have prompted Philippine government officials to ask fellow members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) to hold talks with China on the need for all claimants to disputed maritime areas to conduct themselves in accordance with international laws, sources said.
The Philippine government is worried that China might intensify its campaign to take over areas under Philippines control once it starts drilling for oil in the contested area in July, a foreign affairs source who requested anonymity said.
"China's upcoming offshore oil drilling should not be done within Philippine waters, that was the resolution reached during a meeting of foreign affairs officials on May 27," said the source, adding that representatives from the Chinese embassy would soon be asked to provide the exact location of the offshore oil drilling project.
Philippine officials say that the recent discovery of Chinese-built structures on six reefs near the Kalayaan Island Group that the Philippines claims in the South China Sea point to China's plans to cover up its offshore activities in the contested area, the source said.
Earlier, Philippines foreign affairs officials asked Chinese charge d'affaires Bai Tian to explain the sightings of Chinese navy vessels within Philippines waters on May 31.
The Philippines National Defence Department and the Armed Forces of the Philippines reported sighting a China marine surveillance vessel and other Peoples Liberation Army ships near Iroquois Reef-Amy Douglas Bank. The unoccupied reef is 125 nautical miles from Palawan, southwest Philippines, within the country's 200-nautical-mile Exclusive Economic Zone.
"It is in the best interest of all claimant countries and the region to transform the [contested] area into a zone of peace, freedom, friendship and cooperation through sustained consultations and dialogue," foreign affairs official said prior to a meeting with China's charge' d' affaires.
From / Gulf News