China has been aggressively rushing massive reclamation projects in the South China Sea in an aim to bolster its territorial claims, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said in a news conference Thursday.
“China is accelerating its expansionist agenda and changing the status quo to actualize its nine-dash line claim and to control nearly the entire South China Sea before the handing down of a decision of the arbitral tribunal on the Philippine submission,” del Rosario told the press.
China is resolute in its claim of sovereign rights to nearly the entire sea, based on an old Chinese map with nine dotted lines outlining its territory.
The nine dashes, however, are in some places more than 600 miles from the nearest major Chinese landmass and well within the exclusive economic zones of its neighbors.
Currently, at least five other nations are fighting over the hotly disputed South China Sea: the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia, and Brunei.
The Philippines has filed an arbitration case and protested China’s reclamations in submerged reefs before the United Nations. The ruling would be out early next year.
Del Rosario said China’s territorial claims are invalid and excessive and is in violation of international law.
Under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, only natural features can allow a country to claim rights.
Clearly, China’s construction of man-made strongholds is not solely aimed at bolstering its legal rights. It is a strong display of aggression.